Abim & Agago – Student Garden ClubsMay 5, 2015
In the Agago and Abim districts of Northern Uganda, agriculture is the primary source of income for the vast majority of households. Many children start helping in their family’s plots from a young age. However, as John, the head teacher of Acangali Primary School, told us, agricultural work can also be seen as a punishment, and children often resent working in the fields. Considering its importance as the core livelihood strategy in these districts, it is important to equip children with strong agricultural skills, so that if and when they leave school, they are able to establish successful and profitable farms to support themselves.
For this reason, as part of our LEARN programme, (http://africanrevival.org/what-we-do/uganda/livelihoods/) our livelihoods team have established “student garden clubs” within our partner schools across Agago and Abim, where students learn agricultural and entrepreneurial skills. The clubs seek to enthuse and empower primary school children to work together to grow produce which they can then sell to local markets; enabling children to earn some money demonstrates to them directly that agriculture is a profitable and satisfying activity. As such, should children leave school without completing their final exams, they are already equipped with skills to support themselves and build up their own micro-enterprises.
The children of Acangali Primary School have demonstrated real commitment to their garden club; the children tend to their garden three times a week and have already reaped the rewards. Their red onions have grown very successfully, and the children were able to sell these and use their profits to buy scholastic materials. The children were very keen to buy books to help their studies.
The school’s head teacher told us that his pupils’ grades have improved because the garden is also used to help children in their learning of life sciences. The garden is therefore also a way to keep learning interactive and exciting. Paul, in P7, told us that the garden helped him prepare for exams, because what they are learning in the gardens is sometimes included. Paul is now so interested in agriculture that he would like to work within the sector and train others in agricultural best practice when he is older. Florence, in P4, told us that she is gaining knowledge and skills from the garden – particularly concerning how to plant seeds properly and how to make money.
Sarah, the chairperson of the student garden club agreed: “I am learning new skills; and I have shown my new knowledge to my family. I go to work in the garden three times a week, and I have really enjoyed making some money which I can use to help my education”.
We hope that this garden continues to perform well, and that the children’s hard work and dedication will pay off with a fruitful harvest later on in the year. As always, you can catch more project updates on the website and on social media so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!