STA. CRUZ, Laguna, Philippines —Eighteen more schools in this province are eyed for inclusion in a vegetable gardening project being implemented by government entities and a Los-Baños-based Southeast Asian center.
Five elementary and one high school are serving as the pilot sites of the project titled "Participatory action research on school- and community-based food and nutrition program for literacy, poverty reduction, and sustainable development,"or simply "School and Home Gardens Program."
The project involves the Department of Education (DepEd), the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO SEARCA), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and the local government units (LGUs) where the pilot schools are located.
DepEd-Laguna, through Laguna schools division superintendent Josilyn Solana, SEARCA headed by director Gil Saguiguit Jr., and UPLB headed by chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. have signed a memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the project, which started in 2016.
The pilot schools covered by the project are the five elementary schools in the towns of Alaminos, Cabuyao, Madalena-Majayjay, Nagcarlan and Pila, and the national high school in the Laguna capital town of Sta. Cruz.
The project is envisioned to improve the nutritional condition and dietary habits of school children by increasing production of locally adapted vegetables through school gardening.
It aims to increase the knowledge and skills of pupils and teachers in food production and nutrition through experiential learning activities that instill the importance of agriculture, environmental concerns and use of locally adapted agriculture technologies.
The program is also expected to revive or generate interest in agriculture among school children and their families by promoting the use of science-based technologies and practices in agriculture.
As it is, the youth's interest in agriculture and malnutrition among school children have been two of the pressing challenges in agricultural development in Southeast Asia.