LUCKNOW: In a novel experiment, students of all government schools in Uttar Pradesh will now create their own kitchen gardens and grow fruits and vegetables of their choice.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has issued instructions to all the government schools, up to Class 8, to include the produce from the kitchen gardens in the midday meal.
"When children will work hard to grow vegetables and are asked to eat them, the vegetable will taste different to them for the simple reason that they would already have had developed the connect," said an official in the Education department.
The idea behind the scheme is to boost the nutritive value of the midday meals and also encourage children to grow plants, vegetables and fruits.
As per the MHRD instructions, those schools that do not have land available can raise a terrace garden and use pots, containers or bags. The gardens will have to be managed by the children, mainly with the help of staff and teachers.
"The MHRD will allocate Rs 5,000 per year per school for the purpose and each school will have to work out its own plan considering what variety of vegetables or fruits can be grown in the locality," said Anupama Jaiswal, Minister for Basic Education in UP.
Midday meal has already been a turnaround story for the primary school education provided by the government, and adding a vegetable to it will further boost the scheme.
In UP, the Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) will help the schools to make the proper use of funds and land.
About 2,500 schools in the state already have their kitchen garden raised by teachers and students much before these instructions came. Such schools can play a major role in helping others on deciding things like who would take care of the garden when the school is closed.
The state government will organise a workshop at CISH in mid-August where teachers, staff and students of some of the schools will be called and their doubts, if any, cleared. They will also be taught gardening and made aware of the benefits of the seasonal vegetables.
"The workshop will also guide the participants on the collective growing of vegetables and fruits on the land available to them," CISH Director Shailendra Rajan said.