The concepts of organic agriculture, nutrition, and climate change were integrated in lesson plans under the Department of Education (DepEd) curriculum for Grade 4 at five elementary schools and Grade 7 at one high school in Laguna.

The integration was carried out by 36 heads and teachers of the six schools that are part of the Participatory Action Research on School- and Community-Based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction, and Sustainable Development led by the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. (left), UPLB Chancellor Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. (third from left), and project officials at the school garden of Majayjay Elementary School – one of the participating schools of the Participatory Action Research on School and Community-Based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction, and Sustainable Development.

One of the goals of SEARCA in implementing the school-based food and nutrition program is to increase knowledge of, and improve the skills of teachers and students on, food production and nutrition through experiential learning activities that inculcate the importance of agriculture, environmental concerns, and use of locally adapted green technologies.

The participating schools are Cabuyao Central School in Cabuyao; San Andres Elementary School in Alaminos; Crisanto Guysayko Memorial Elementary School in Nagcarlan; Majayjay Elementary School in Majayjay; Labuin Elementary School in Pila; and Pedro Guevarra Memorial National High School in Sta. Cruz.

In a writeshop organized by SEARCA last May 13, Grades 4 and 7 teachers of Mathematics, English, Science, Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP), and Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) integrated the concepts of organic agriculture, nutrition, and climate change in the lesson plans of these subjects under the current Department of Education (DepEd) curricula for Grades 4 and 7.

The writeshop participants reviewed the concepts of organic agriculture and nutrition and were given an overview of climate change implications for nutrition. They were also given a lecture on bio-intensive gardening techniques during a field visit to the crop museum of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIR) in Silang, Cavite. They were also apprised on IIRR’s School Nutrition Program in Cavite.

Teachers who taught the same subjects were grouped together to work on integrating the concepts, and presented their enhanced lesson plans using the “demo teaching” method.

The target number of enhanced lesson plans as well as the timeline of their completion, processing, and endorsement to DepEd were outlined in an action plan that the participating teachers and SEARCA agreed on, and which were set for piloting as classes recently opened this school year.

Facilitators of the workshop included Lamberto Perolina of the DepEd Laguna, the principals of the participating schools, and Dr. Blesilda Calub of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, who leads SEARCA’s school and community gardens program.

SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said the initial implementation of the program on a pilot scale will provide important learning points for scaling up as the program is envisioned to be implemented nationwide and across the Southeast Asian region.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s October 2016 issue.