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Sprouting change: school gardens in Senegal

Did you know that gardens can nurture the growth of children’s minds and bodies, as well as plants? School gardens in countries such as Senegal. can have a significant impact, offering unique, hands-on learning opportunities, not to mention nutritious food for students and a source of income for schools.

According to studies undertaken by Plan, 50% of Senegal lives in poverty, with the majority of its poorest population residing in rural areas. The country’s school enrolment rate has also been ranked as one of the lowest in Africa, primarily due to few alternative education or training opportunities, the high cost of schooling fees and school supplies, as well as insufficient resources – particularly in rural areas.

Planting seeds of change
Several seedlings line the ground in separate containers.

Students learned important gardening tips such as irrigating and supervising seedlings for optimal results.

To address this need, Plan implemented a project to establish school gardens in over 10 communities, where 124 hardworking volunteers pitched in by planting over 700 eucalyptus trees, 30 mango trees, and 30 orange trees. Excited by the initiative, several local residents made further contributions: offering their time, seeds, money, materials, and encouragement to create a strong sense of community.

To ensure the gardens would bear fruits of the labour for years to come, Plan equipped 40 community members and students with training in gardening and reforestation techniques. These garden-savvy leaders are now facilitating the gardening programs at their schools with the help of other students, teachers, parents and community volunteers.

Food for thought
A series of lush, planted gardens, line the ground.

Today’s promising sprouts will bear tomorrow’s fruits of progress.

Interestingly, the agricultural training established a connection between classroom subjects – like vocabulary, geometry, and natural science – and hands-on experience, thus enhancing course materials. Students also learned the ideal crops for their environment, and how to cook their harvest in order to optimize nutrients for healthy development.

School gardens in countries like Senegal have led to increased school attendance, participation, and student attentiveness. Allowing children to put teachings into practice with hands-on activities can appeal to a variety of learning types and abilities, while helping students attain a deeper understanding of the information they process. As a result, children are more likely to retain invaluable knowledge – leading to the use and success of such practices later in life.

Bearing fruits for generations to come
A young boy mindfully waters a row of plants using a watering can.

These school gardens have empowered children with practical life-skills, enriching their educational experiences – along with their diets!

Some of the gardens’ crops have even been sold to generate income for school infrastructure and new gardening tools. One enterprising school began selling plants from their nursery garden, raising enough funds to purchase school supplies including notebooks, pens, and geometry equipment for more than 460 students!

Building on their own success, the school’s management committee has taken steps to support gardening activities in six other schools in surrounding communities. Such initiation and collaboration is truly a testament to the community’s motivation to expand school gardens, and their benefits, throughout the region.

Buy the gift of Endless harvest, to help nourish thousands of children’s minds, bodies, and dreams for the future.