Primary school agriculture: What can it realistically achieve?
by Sibylle Riedmiller
Published in "Entwicklung und Laendlicher Raum" (28) 3/94:9-13
The author of this study is one of the most knowledgeable people in the areas of agriculture in primary schools and school gardens. She and G. Mades co-authored the book “Primary school agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa” (GTZ1991). With this contribution, SD Dimension will begin publishing a series of articles on this topic. Readers who would like to share their country case studies can send an abstract of their proposed article to email@example.com.
It is highly appropriate that the title of the article refers to "agriculture teaching in primary schools" rather than "school gardening". According to the author, "school gardening" has often been understood as manual work in the school garden, without educational or social aims. During her career, the author has worked to promote a sustainable and more comprehensive approach to agriculture in school which combines educational, socio-political and economic objectives. She is concerned about the "pathology" of school gardening which some critics have called child-labour exploitation or punishment. This refers to situations in which pupils have no control over their crops and no tangible benefits, when proceeds are appropriated by teachers as an additional income, or used by schools for miscellaneous expenses. For these reasons, agricultural labour in schools has often been viewed unfavourably by parents and communities.
This article highlights the strengths and the constraints of agriculture in primary schools and provides sound insight on how to overcome the pathology of weak practices.
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