Recognizing the great potentials of school gardens in improving health and academic performance of students as well as in creating school and community-based livelihoods, BIOTROP convened 53 teachers from nine provinces in Indonesia to a Training on Establishing School Gardens for Nutrition, Literacy, and Entrepreneurship on 21-31 March 2016 at its headquarter in Bogor, Indonesia.
The training was part of the implementation of SEAMEO College Research 6: A Participatory Action Research on School and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development: Pilot Project in Indonesia. This program is administered by the SEAMEO Secretariat with funding support from the Japan Fund for Poverty Alleviation through the Asian Development Bank. BIOTROP serves as the implementing institution in collaboration with two other SEAMEO Centres, namely: Regional Centre for Food and Nutrition (RECFON) and the Regional Open Learning Centre (SEAMOLEC).
Specifically, the training had the following objectives: (1) To assess current status and needs of the participating schools in terms of nutrition, literacy, and entrepreneurship; (2) To enable the participants to internalize the importance of nutrition to the educational development of school children; (3) To provide the participants with basic knowledge and skills on school garden models and agriculture technologies that could be adopted in a school garden setting; (4) To introduce the concepts and principles of online teaching system to support literacy development in the context of school garden; and (5) To enable the participants to design their school garden plans for their respective schools.
SEAMEO Secretariat Director Dr Gatot Hari Priowirjanto officially opened the training on 27 March 2016 at BIOTROP’s Convention Hall. In his remarks, Dr Gatot encouraged the participants to be the driving force for creating awareness and interest in establishing school gardens among other schools in their respective provinces. He said that their successes could serve as best practice models that could be replicated in other schools in Indonesia as well as in other Southeast Asian countries. Also during the opening program, SEAMEO College Program Officer Mr. Avelino Mejia oriented the participants about the SEAMEO College activities which also include this action research program on school garden.
The participants received lectures and undergone hands-on exercises on (1) The importance of nutrition in the educational development of school children, (2) Household-scale composting of solid organic wastes, (3) School Garden Models for Nutrition, Literacy, and Entrepreneurship, (4) School Garden as a Project-based Learning System, (5) Hydroponic Production of Leafy and Fruit Vegetables, (6) Basics of Vegetable Cultivation, (7) Facilitating School Gardening Learning through Online Material Development and Teaching, and Action Planning.
As a major output of the training, the participants turned in their individual action plans on establishing their school gardens and/or improving existing ones for nutrition, literacy, and entrepreneurship. They were also able to create their own respective blogs which is aimed to promote and share their experiences on the progress of their school garden activities.
The results of the needs assessment surveys conducted by the three SEAMEO Centres with the participants during the training will be the basis in developing appropriate interventions to assist the participating schools to improve health and nutrition and literacy of their students, as well as establish entrepreneurship to help sustain school operation through the school garden projects.
At the closing program, BIOTROP Director Dr Irdika Mansur congratulated and thanked the participants for completing the training. He said BIOTROP plans to convene the school representatives again who would be successful in implementing their school gardens to share their experiences in a seminar in January 2017. The Centre hopes to award financial incentives to at least top five performing schools to help them expand their projects.
The resource persons during the training were SEAMEO RECFON Director Dr. Drupadi Dillon, SEAMOLEC Director Dr. Abi Sujak, Prof. Dr. Anas Susila from Institut Pertanian Bogor, Dr. Irdika Mansur, BIOTROP Deputy Director for Administration Dr. Arief Sabdo Yuwono, BIOTROP Deputy Director for Program Dr Jess C. Fernandez, Mr Dona Octanary and Mr. Christiawan Eko from SEAMOLEC, BIOTROP research assistant for hydroponic Ms. Riana Hartati and BIOTROP Community Development Assistant Mr. Didi Junaedi.