2000 Winner
Gauteng Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
South Africa
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EduPlant is a national schools permaculture programme which was founded by Trees for Africa (TFA) and Eskom in 1994. The objectives of the programme are to promote permaculture, to raise environmental awareness at school, to green schools and provide food, and to develop skills around the sustainable use of resources. The programme has grown and prospered in hundreds of schools throughout the country.

The project was initiated in response to a growing demand from teachers for environmental education, following its introduction into the national curriculum. Feedback from schools indicated that there was more interest in producing food than in planting trees. Accordingly, the current EduPlant programme was developed, where schools are assisted in establishing food gardens using permaculture methods of cultivation.

Each year, three workshops are held in each province, which are attended by educators who are interested in joining the programme and establishing gardens at their schools. After the workshop schools apply to join the programme, and EduPlant begins a one-year cycle of training, during which it supplies the necessary seeds and tools. It also provides on-site advice through a field officer, who visits regularly, monitors progress, evaluates the project, runs workshops for learners, and stays in constant contact with the educator.

At the end of the year participating schools can apply for further funding. Successful proposals are matched with private sector sponsorship averaging an amount of R35,000. This provides for further facilitators, and infrastructure costs, such as boreholes, fencing and seeds. A further two years of funding can be arranged, after which the projects are expected to become self-sufficient.

An annual competition invites entries, which are assessed on the extent to which the project has extended beyond the school into the community. The competition takes the form of a four-day national workshop, including an intensive programme of permaculture and environmental workshops and demonstrations, presentations from each school, and performing arts and musical activities.

The project encourages environmental education and awareness, and focuses on the sustainable use of natural resources, while developing skills and building capacity. In addition, many of the projects result in improved nutrition and health, and allow some schools to generate income.

"Permaculture presents common sense ideas for permanent agriculture and culture through the application of real life skills; it is the conscious design of our environment to sustainably support our basic needs" Jeunesse Park, Executive Director, Food and Trees for Africa

Innovation: Teachers are assisted in meeting the curriculum requirements for environmental education, while learners have an opportunity for direct experience learning and skills development. Through support and mentoring, teachers can develop optimism and commitment in the context of difficult circumstances and disadvantaged schools. At a more advanced level, school projects are capable of generating income, and providing employment to parents who work in the garden.
Poverty impact: The establishment of food gardens in some schools meets a real nutritional need amongst learners, parents and broader community members and enhances their food security. Over the past 5 years, 800 schools have developed food gardens. More than 3000 educators have attended workshops and gained knowledge and expertise which they are then able to pass on to learners and the broader community. Approximately 50 schools are feeding their learners. 30 schools are providing food for their learners, community members and unemployed parents. A large number of schools are generating income from the nurseries they have established, recycled goods produced and sold, or the sale of produce. Improved nutrition has lead to at least one school reporting a 70% drop in health problems since the inception of the project.
Replication: EduPlant requires funding to provide support schools, but any school could set up a permaculture food garden, and integrate it into the teaching curriculum, in the event of the school being in a position to cover the costs.
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