This program earned a Silver award.
School-goers in the Cape Flats face a large number of problems, including high rates of unemployment amongst their families (from 50 – 90% unemployment); hunger (up to 25% of students are malnourished to the point where it affects their academic ability); the co-occurring issues of crime, drug problems and gang violence. Educators are also battling to implement the new Outcomes Based Education required by the Education Department. Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) therefore developed the Organic Classroom Programme, which assists learners and schools to develop permaculture gardens, which can enhance food security, and provide a learning opportunity about the environment, conservation and food security. It also aims to career-path permaculture, by providing accredited training so that people can turn permaculture initiatives into viable career or economic opportunities. Thus, SEED helps schools to develop permaculture gardens, which supplement school feeding schemes; assists educators to use this as a teaching tool; develops, publishes and distributes textbooks and training materials; and provides accredited Permaculture Training. SEED has a three-stage process with the schools, which is progressively hands-off, so that the school learns to manage the project themselves over time.
Innovation: The project aims to empower schools, educators and learners through permaculture gardens, which can enhance food security, provide teaching resources, and generate career and economic opportunities.
Effectiveness: SEED currently works with schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Western Cape (specifically, the Cape Flats). 2 schools are involved in KwaZulu-Natal; 2 in Gauteng (which includes 1267 learners and 29 educators); and 14 schools in the Cape Flats – 8 at the nursery phase level; and six at the intermediate phase.
Poverty Impact: The gardens provide food for children at all 18 schools; and a number are also engaged in income-generation initiatives. Providing accredited Permaculture Training also makes it a viable option as a career for students who complete the training.
Sustainability: SEED receives funding from a large number of sponsors (most are listed below), and this means that they are not reliant on any single funder. This makes it less likely for them to lose funding, as they will always have other options. The current project has been running since 2000, and it therefore seems likely that it has the resources to continue into the foreseeable future.
Replication: The project is relatively easily replicable, as can be seen by the fact that SEED has been able to establish gardens in so many schools across the country. It will obviously be easier if a group can develop its own resources to use. Establishing gardens would be relatively easy; however, setting up an accredited training programme, and developing training manuals will be more difficult, and would require a fairly large amount of funding and buy-in from schools. Thus, it will be easier for the large-scale programme to be initiated by relatively big groups.