A five-day USDA training-of-trainers program entitled "Cultivating Learning with School Gardens" took place during July 1-5 at ONE WORLD UNIVERSITY in Changalane, Mozambique. This training marked the launch of the "School Garden Campaign" under the USDA FOOD FOR EDUCATION PROGRAM being implemented by Planet Aid and its in-country partner ADPP Mozambique. The training provided program staff with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively establish and care for a school garden and also provided ideas for using the gardens as learning tools in rural primary schools.
The two veteran trainers of this USDA-funded training program, Mary Crave and Tom Syverud, both from the University of Wisconsin, had given this training in other African countries. This was the first time they offered it in Mozambique. "The idea is that the students learn to train school teachers in using the school gardens as learning laboratories," explained Crave. "The school gardens will also complement the school feeding component of the Food For Education Program by ensuring that all schools have access to nutritious food year round," she added.
The training consisted of lectures and group exercises both in the classroom and out at the university model gardens. The students were taught various gardening skills, including transplanting techniques and preparing natural insecticides and pesticides. They were also encouraged to come up with creative ways to teach different school subjects, including mathematics, biology and arts, by using the garden as a classroom.
“I was taught how to establish and take care of a school garden and learned how to be creative in using it as learning support in some school disciplines," explained participant Jerónimo Jotta, age 22. "The school garden training gave me an opportunity to strengthen my skills in working with children and in motivating people in working together as well,” he added.
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"'Cultivating Learning with School Gardens' is a project coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on behalf of USAID'S AFRICAN EDUCATION INITIATIVE," explained Almeida Zacarias (pictured left), Agriculture Specialist from USDA Mozambique. "It was originally initiated in 2005 and has since been implemented in various African countries," he continued. "In Mozambique, the objective of the training is to bring added value to the Food For Education Program that is now being implemented by Planet Aid and ADPP Mozambique. The idea is that the newly trained staff will now train the teachers in their respective communities in elaborating school gardens and using them for both teaching and nutrition purposes."