LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: The Los Baños Science Community Foundation Inc. (LBSCFI) gave an award for the School-Plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP) led by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
The partner of SEARCA for the S+HGP are the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Department of Education (DepEd) in the province.
This year's LBSCFI-Philippine Agriculture and Resources Research Foundation Inc. Research and Development Award was conferred to the "School-Plus-Home Gardens Project: A Participatory and Inclusive Model for Sustainable Development" for the development category.
Jointly receiving the award were the S+HGP team represented by Blesilda Calub PhD, Leila Africa PhD, Bessie Burgos PhD, Henry Custodio, DepEd district supervisors and the principals and teachers of the S+HGP partner schools in Laguna.
The S+HGP was piloted in six schools in Laguna province where harvests from the school gardens provided fresh vegetables for school-based feeding programs.
The project was a brainchild of former Education secretary Armin Luistro and conceptualized with then SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr., PhD. SEARCA revived and redesigned DepEd's earlier school garden programs to an innovative approach focusing on nutrition, education and economic well-being of school children and their families and communities.
According to Bessie Burgos, PhD of SEARCA, the model also extended the gardening-feeding linkage to the establishment of food gardens in the school children's homes.
"More than just establishing home gardens, the parents developed a greater sense of responsibility to ensure good nutrition for their children while also saving on food expenses," Burgos said.
She said the project championed the multi-functionality of school gardens as learning laboratories for educating pupils, teachers and parents about sustainability concepts and interconnections of food and nutrition, organic agriculture, edible landscaping, climate change, and solid waste management.
The network has grown from the six original pilot schools in 2016 to two more adopted schools and 25 brother and sister schools as of August this year.
SEARCA is likewise poised to upscale the S+HGP throughout Southeast Asia after obtaining the endorsement of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) High Officials. The SEAMEO Council is composed of the ministers of education of the 11 Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines.
The success of the S+HGP was also recognized when Labuin Elementary School won an international award for its exemplary achievements in education and sustainable development (ESD) stemming from its most successful implementation of S+HGP among the pilot schools.
The 2017 SEAMEO-Japan ESD award was conferred by SEAMEO and the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the Asia Pacific Regional Bureau of Education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.