Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Sri Lankan government has introduced a Sustainable Development Programme for the country’s schools as part of President Maithripala Sirisena’s initiative to raise awareness among students of organic, sustainable and chemical-free farming.
"This school project is a great way to teach students to become good farmers in the future,” said Nandika Sirisena, a science teacher and project manager at the Ella Model School in Bandarawela.
“Many kids have the opportunity to work on their own with home gardens to meets their needs, especially produce without chemical additives. We began growing in May this year. Some vegetables are good enough to be harvested right now," the science teacher said.
The Ella Model School in Bandarawela is a small facility that currently has 371 students, ten of whom are Tamil, and two Muslims. Its faculty consists of 44 people. Although it does not have a lot of space, some garden beds were set up next to classrooms where a variety of vegetables and even flowers are grown.
"For growing, we use [garden] beds and containers,” School principal W. B. Gunasenavisuradhipathi said. “So far, we have harvested two or three times. On one occasion, we got 50 to 60 kilos of vegetables of all kinds, then sold them to the school’s teachers. The proceeds went to the School Development Committee for general needs."
"We calculate the cost and set aside what is needed to buy seeds, fertilisers and some tools,” said V.D. Renuka and Sumithra Jayaweera, two other teachers involved in the project.
“We calculate the profits, and put them in the school fund. It is not a lot of money, but we use it for general needs, like a Buddhist procession or help the relatives of someone connected to the school who has died.”
“We are looking towards increasing production, but we have had some difficulty finding the water needed for the plants.”
“Although this is a major problem, somehow our kids are able to keep the crops alive without letting the plants die, with just some water,” Renuka and Sumithra explained. “They really like this project, which does not interfere with their study, "the teachers added.
"Even though it was introduced as a government programme, our students get more than just a project,” Nandika Sirinesa said. “To love plants and respect the environment are positive values, like the protection of human life."