As WFP phases out, education ministry introduces School Agriculture Programme to meet students’ dietary requirements
The Curriculum and Professional Support Division (CAPSD), has approved the proposal from the Education Ministry for introducing the School Agriculture Programme as an optional subject with effect from 2013.
The new subject, Agriculture for Food Security (AgFS), will be offered to students from classes IX till XII.
AgFS will cover educational aspects that shall address the mind set about the vocational subject; business aspects of marketing entrepreneurship and sustainable farming components integrated for the introduction of the project.
The course will be introduced in 10 different schools as a pilot project.
The project initially existed in 173 schools as the School Agriculture Programme(SAP); it was not an optional subject but a club.
According to the Chief Programme Officer, Chhador Wangdi of the School Agriculture, Feeding and Environment Division with the Education Ministry, AgFs is a technical subject in which teachers need to be trained in the field, so the pilot projects will be introduced in schools near agriculture centers.
“If we don’t get full time agriculture teachers, we will have to collaborate with the nearest Renewable Natural Resources(RNR ) centers and hire teachers and lecturers from there,” said Chhador Wangdi.
“Even as a club, our schools have contributed a lot to the national food security,” he said.
World Food Programme(WFP) which has been in the country for the last 37 years started phasing out since 2007. Just 225 lower and community primary schools’ rations are funded by WFP as of now which includes rice, dal, chana and fortified oil therefore the government has to pay for the vegetables given to these children.
Then there are 47 schools in which children’s stipends are provided by the government. The stipend of Nu 700 per month for each student does not meet the nutritional requirement in children. “So the children should be working to produce their own fresh vegetables, raise pigs and poultry in order to get a balanced diet,” said Chhador wangdi .
Students should learn through doing, feels the education ministry, and this can be achieved through the agriculture programme.