The tale of a Government Middle School (GMS) in Viswema, whose students and faculty are engaging in organic farming to supplement their Mid Day Meals and driving economic benefit by selling their surplus produce, is truly inspiring.
The story, which was reported by online news portal ‘The Better India’ is an example of how, despite all the problems that Nagaland’s government schools especially in rural areas face, a committed faculty can mould students to be productive and responsible adults.
In the report is the story of how the 60-odd students, guided by their head teacher, grow tubers, vegetables and herbs in the school premises in designated patches. They tend to them after class hours, learn about agricultural practices and most importantly develop a sense of sustainability—a trait of utmost importance in our present planetary scenario.
There has been always been a strong argument in favour of having kitchen gardens in school backyards for quite some time because this can have several positive spin-offs. A garden can provide a context to students for understanding seasonality and life cycles of food; it can provide an opportunity to work cooperatively on real tasks; students can learn about where food comes from; and they can observe all of the principles of ecology in practice.
The 2019 Global Hunger Index measured hunger in 117 countries that provided data on four indicators — underweight and undernourished children, mortality rate of children, and stunted children under five years. India, the report showed, has serious levels of hunger.
In this context, initiatives such as kitchen gardens in schools can go a long way in tackling the problem of hunger and malnutrition by adding variety to the plate of what is currently available in the various midday meal schemes in the country. Children deserve not just food, but quality, nutritious food. The lack of this can have a debilitating effect on not just the growth of children, and their cognitive abilities and health, but also affect a society’s economic and social well-being because only a healthy population can ensure robust growth.
But most important of all is the effect programmes like this will have on young people in their formative years. The planet is at a precarious position right now, and every child who develops that sense of sustainability and appreciation for the natural world, is a step forward in moulding a generation that will help clean up their forbear’s mess.
And any teacher who succeeds in doing that needs our encouragement and support.
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