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In July 2022, School Farms, a nonprofit organisation working towards food and nutrition security, and agriculture technical, vocational and business skills development through the education system in Ghana, was awarded the Mandela Washington Fellowship Leveraging Innovations in New Communities (LINC) Grant, sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The project is being implemented in Ho Dome R.C Junior High School and Dzolo-Gbogame E.P Junior High School in the Ho-West District and Ho Municipality in the Volta Region of Ghana. About 20 to 40 learners in each of the two schools are directly participating in the project. The outcome of the initiatives will be evaluated to inform a possible scale-up to other schools in future.
There are three main project objectives. The first is to develop practical agriculture vocational and technical skills Competency-Based Training document, known as the School Farms Toolkit for Basic Schools. The second is to facilitate the acquisition of agriculture vocational and technical skills by teaching students to set up beds, raised boxes and sacks and clay receptacles gardens to grow highly nutritious crops, vegetables, and fruits through a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach and the last, inspire students to learn about healthy foods and preparation practices with produce from the school gardens.
The government of Ghana through the Ministry of Education in an effort to promote or improve Access to Quality Education has changed the Basic Education curriculum, moving away from the Objectives-Basic Curriculum (OBC) to a Standards-Based Curriculum (SBC). This is expected to help learners to meet learning standards and improve knowledge and skills acquisition, but it is still not clear how schoolteachers and learners will achieve this, especially in Agricultural and Environmental Studies related subjects.
However, amid the litany of education reforms that emphasize innovation and new methods, school farms stand out as a low-tech change. Students can make predictions and conduct experiments on the farms during science, plot out the dimensions of the garden in math or learn about the history and politics of food access in social studies, for example. This will provide them with the opportunity to access experiential learning opportunities which have a direct linkage to improving access and the quality of their education.