Aarohi members from different sectors have come together in designing of and sowing seedlings in the school farm and the area around it. The diligence shown by the team in undertaking the tasks are commendable. The team strongly believs that unless kids are involved in the farming work, there is no way to develop their love and respect for nature. Some teachers share their suggestions and also spend time in the school farm, growing herbs and vegetables. The school team is eager to work with kids when the school reopens. One of the lessons learnt in these times of C-19 is 'One who stays closer to the soil, seldom falls sick'. We, at Aarohi dreams of a day when the next generation will stick to their land, their farm, preserving their resources and not having to migrate from their villages.
As a part of the project ‘ Contextualising Education with Farming and Ecology’, a polyhouse was constructed in school premises for conducting farm based learning activities. Keeping in mind that agriculture is the most important aspect of rural life, we use local agricultural practices and natural resources as a medium for contextualised learning.
During the national lockdown, the activities of the school's polyhouse could not be conducted with the learners due to school closures. However, preparation tasks like raising beds,tilling, composting, etc were undertaken by the team. 12 beds were raised in the farm which included leafy winter vegetables- mustard, spinach, fenugreek, radish, carrot, beet and herbs- sage, coriander, parsley, oregano, chives, rosemary, basil.
As soon as the school reopened for the senior learners, they were taken to the farm and were introduced to their new learning space. Children were very excited for the upcoming sessions in the farm. A ' Seed Bank' has also been prepared for the children and over 40 different types of seeds have been collected from the local villages.
As a part of the project ‘ Contextualising Education with Farming and Ecology’, a polyhouse was constructed in school premises for conducting farm based learning activities. Agriculture is the most important aspect of rural life. Using agricultural and natural resources as a medium for contextualising the curriculum could, therefore, provide an avenue through which children can have repeated experiences to develop their cognitive, physical and social skills.
In Spite of the national lockdown, the activities of the school's polyhouse have started off well. Frequent rainfall resulting in availability of water this season has resulted in fixing issues of water availability . Initial setup which includes soil work, raising beds,tilling, applying of compost, etc have been completed. Seedlings of brinjal, tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber, pumpkin and bottle gourd have been planted. Monsoons are the upcoming season for rapid growth of certain plants, hence the farm activities are carried out by our team members until we involve students from our school.
From Seed Bombs to Seedlings!
As a result of an eco-fun activity of seed bombing conducted prior to monsoons last year, some of the seeds underwent germination successfully. Various native seeds of kumaon were used in making seed bombs. Some of them were- Chamlai, Bhatoola, Sakina, Ghadi, Kilmaadu, Kathua aadu, Chuaru, Padam, Hisaloo and Kachnaar (these are local tree species). This activity also aimed at growing more native trees near the school premises to protect the pine forests from forest fires. During, the upcoming monsoons, efforts will be made to nurture these young plants into sturdy trees for the future.
Contextualized content for rural mountain children
As an attempt to make education more meaningful and experiential for the rural mountain kids, Aarohi, with the support of donations through GlobalGiving’s School Farm project and Duleep Matthai Conservation Trust initiated development of contextualised learning material using natural resource management methodology. The content designed for the upper primary section aims at achieving the learning goals defined by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, GoI. These learning goals are the same for schools in both rural and urban areas. Keeping these goals as base, our content provides a context to learning making it more relevant and relatable to the immediate environment.
Through contextualisation of education with farming and ecology, we think parents from the local rural communities will be able to contribute to their child’s learning and the concepts taught under various disciplines will become more relatable to a child, bringing them closer to their local environment. Content has been designed to include the Himalayas, local biodiversity, folk stories, beliefs, traditions, cultures of Kumaon, history and geographical importance of this region, and traditional farming practices.
At the very initial stage of project ‘Contextualising Education with Farming and Ecology’, an activity was conducted with Upper Primary students wherein with the help of Inquiry-based approach, students were encouraged to think and ask questions on certain themes from their immediate environment. This list of questions was compiled and shared with team members. Some of the outcomes of the activity were developing thinking skills, framing of questions from their surroundings and understanding of a concept. Most importantly we got to know exactly what kids wanted to know or learn. The approach is an active form of learning where a learner can identify a gap, or a problem by himself and pose an inquiry around a theme.
An assortment of questions asked by the students asked are given as follows:
These questions and more are one of the many aspects that will form the base of our content development exercise in our ‘School Farm Project’.
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