The Tagantassou primary school in the Tillaberi region of Niger is a typical small village school: a few cement classrooms with scrappy furniture, many grass mat classes built by the community with children sitting on the floor in some cases, and few educational materials. In part with your support, the RAIN drip-irrigation School Market Garden has provided vital nutritious vegetables for the students while acting as a sustainable source of revenue for school supplies. This year, the garden will increase in value as the site of a pilot program, wherein it is transformed into a living classroom providing hands-on learning experience for children. Using textbooks provided by RAIN, a 4-month curriculum of study has been created, focusing on environmental science, agriculture, nutrition and health. The curriculum combines classroom learning with agricultural activities, including weekly data collection in the garden. Through participation in the harvesting and sale of crops, students will learn important mathematics and logistical lessons in small business accounting and organization in addition to new techniques in irrigation, cultivation and organic pest control. The winter season is ideal to garden in Niger, and the drip irrigation system is close to being fully installed, ready for the new plantings. Seedlings will be ready for transplant in less than two weeks, at which time the students will begin their specialized studies. We are very enthusiastic about this project and the prospect of adopting this hands-on model in all our School Market Gardens in the coming year. The drip irrigated school market garden with cash crop sustainability enhanced by the agricultural curriculum exemplifies RAIN’s integrated approach to long lasting change for rural communities in one of the world’s poorest countries.
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