Transforming school gardens and linking it to the school feeding in Batangas Province

In 2012 to 2015, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), the Department of Education Division of Cavite and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) implemented a 3-year action research entitled “Integrated Approach to Address Food and Nutrition Security in the Philippines”. The research project (phase 1) funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) developed and adapted an integrated school nutrition model integrating school gardening, supplementary feeding and nutrition education in Cavite province.

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In 2016, IIRR, Dept of Education Bureau of Learner Support Services and Region 4A, FNRI-DOST, Dept of Agriculture Region 4A implemented a follow through 28-month action research project entitled “Improving Food and Nutrition Security in the Philippines through school interventions” to fine tune and scale up the model. From 28 schools in the province of Cavite, the project now covers 5 provinces in Region 4 A with 2751 public elementary schools. The scaling up of the model relies primarily on lighthouse schools (LS). Lighthouse schools are expected to demonstrate the model using the guides and are responsible in transferring the innovation to other schools in region 4A.LS are also the designated crop museums where seeds will be mass produced for schools and communities.  Fifty eight LS have been established across region 4A. In addition, 229 additional crop museums are being set up. These school crop museums will be responsible in producing planting materials for the rest the schools in.

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Ayao-iyao Elementary School, one of the LS in Batangas Province

Batangas, a province in Region 4A, is constantly confronted with malnutrition problems that plague thousands of its young children. In 2016, almost 41,500 malnourished students are being fed in its public schools. Determined to address this concern, Batangas School Division Supervisor Macaria Carina Carandang strongly promoted the Integrated School Nutrition Model throughout the province.

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Macaria Carina Carandang, Education Program Supervisor, Schools Division of Batangas

Supported by the school division superintendent and assistant superintendents, she organized a division-wide launching of the model in August 2016. Attended by officials from the Department of Education Batangas and heads of schools, Macaria Carandang used the event to encourage them to adapt the model in their respective schools. Benchmarking was held at two lighthouse schools in the province where teachers conducted demonstration teachings on topics like bio-intensive gardening and integrating indigenous vegetables in feeding recipes. Participants were also introduced to crop museums. The activities done during benchmarking were effective in persuading the participants to adapt the model in their schools. During the course of the year, more than 700 schools in the province received seed diversity kits from the lighthouse schools.

For Macaria Carandang, one of their best practices was the constant monitoring done at various levels: school, area and district. The visits of the superintendent to the schools also brought a positive impact to the school staff. To further motivate the schools to improve their gardens and feeding recipes and activities, Maria Carandang organized a division level competition for the best school implementers. Eight schools were awarded and it encouraged the non-awardees to improve their work for the next competition.

“Competitions are big motivators for school teachers,” Macaria Carandang shares. “It encourages them to be more active in implementing the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program.”

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Pinagtungulan Elementary School, one of the LS in Batangas Province

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