Pilot-tested home and school gardens established by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) throughout Southeast Asia have been upscaled by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) to make the younger generation increase their appreciation for agriculture.
SEAMEO high officials has approved for endorsement to the SEAMEO Council the upscaling of the home and school gardens, and commended the SEARCA leadership for their establishment. SEARCA is hosted by the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna, and the education ministers of Southeast Asian countries constitute the SEAMEO Council.
Ministries of Education of SEAMEO's 11-member countries commended SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. for the center's efforts to develop the gardens where the school gardens were established.
The six pilot schools include Labuin Elementary School that recently won an international award (2017 SEAMEO-Japan Education and Sustainable Development Award) for its school garden project.
It was supported by SEARCA in partnership with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Department of Education-Laguna.
Saguiguit said the pilot schools will be the epicenter of trainings and capacity building activities to transfer the concept to schools in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
SEAMEO said SEARCA has successfully demonstrated how the school gardens can address the health and nutritional status of school-aged children, provide experiential learning and even improve the economic well-being of families and communities.
More importantly, SEARCA said the school garden introduces to children an early appreciation for agriculture. "Agriculture, which is key to food security and poverty alleviation, could be greatly affected with diminishing interest in it, especially among the youth," Saguiguit said.