Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE #SDG 2: Zero Hunger Promoting Sustainable School Grounds for Healthy Learning and Living: Archbishop Gitari Boarding Primary School
Eco-schools Agriculture Theme promotes improved nutrition and sustainable food production. One Eco-school that embodies this is Archbishop Gitari Primary School.
Archbishop Gitari Boarding Primary school is a mixed boarding school found in PI area in Kirinyaga County in Kenya. The school was founded in the year 1992 and was named after the late Emeritus Archbishop Dr. David Gitari of the Anglican Church of Kenya who played a pivotal role in its establishment. Currently the school has got 13 members of teaching staffs and also 13 support staff team. The school is run by a Board of Management which oversees the day to day running of the school. It is has a total of about 400 students.
Located in high agricultural potential area, the school through the Eco-schools program started sustainable projects that would make the lives of their students, parents; teachers and local community better by providing food in the school where by students consume internally generated agricultural produce. This also helps parents who are relatively poor and struggle to make ends meet. Some of the proceeds collected from the projects are also used to pay school fees for needy students.
Archbishop Gitari is implementing the following projects under the Eco-schools program; dairy farming, vegetables growing, pig rearing, banana growing, coffee farming, macadamia growing, bee keeping, agroforestry and fish farming. In dairy farming, the school started keeping few herds of cows that produce milk that is used to make tea for teachers and students. The surplus is sold to the community at to generate money for the school.
The school keeps pigs for meat and selling. Some of the meat is consumed by students with the rest sold in the local market. They also sell piglets in to local community to promote pig rearing in the area. The waste from the pigs and cattle is used to provide manure for their organic vegetable growing project.
Coffee farming is common in the region the school is found and it is one of the major economic agricultural activities that most parents and locals indulge in. To embrace the activity, the school started small scale coffee farming which is grown along other crops in the school farm. Some of other crops that are grown alongside coffee are bananas. In all the farming, the produces are majorly used internally in the school with coffee sold for to generate money for sustaining Eco-school program. This has played role in offsetting the cost of food that would otherwise be sourced outside the school.
Cognizant to the fact that the school wholly depends on environment for the farming activities, the school also grows trees and other crops in their agroforestry project. They have established a tree nursery to raise seedlings which are planted in the school for ecosystem services. The general environment of the school is green with the trees providing aesthetic values and green landscape of the school compound. Some of the seedlings are also sold to the public to raise money for the school. In their agroforestry project, they also grow fruit trees for food e.g. Macadamia and guavas.
Crop farming heavily requires pollination. Through their bee keeping project, the school has been able to contribute to high yield of the produce where most of their bees pollinate farms in and around the school. The bees also produce honey for consumption and selling. Most of the honey produced is helpful to the locals who are trying to adopt organic lifestyles due to rise in lifestyle diseases. The school also practices fish farming. The project has been successful as it has been generating food and income to the school. Through constructed ponds, they have been able to raise fish fillets that are bought by the community.
Archbishop Gitari School is one of the model sustainable schools which have been empowered by the Eco-schools Programme in Kenya. Through the Eco-schools program, they get training on their projects acquiring skills and knowledge to maintain their projects for the benefit of the students and the community. The school through these projects has manifested that a school can exclusively rely on its own resources to provide for the needs of the students while cutting costs for parents and alleviating poverty in the society. This is also a fundamental practice that helps the school cut their carbon footprint in the face of climate change.