Published: 21st July 2021
This govt teacher in rural Karnataka set up a garden in school that her students have been watering during the pandemic
Shashikala G R, an assistant teacher at a government school speaks about the importance of developing a farm at her school and helping students develop a value system
Lohith Raje Urs has developed a layer farm in his school premises. He even cultivated more than 30 jamun saplings. Whenever guests visited his school, these saplings were given to them. Observing his work in agriculture, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board felicitated him with an award and a certificate. Like Lohith, there are quite a few children who have planted different saplings in the past few years in the Government Primary School in Hunsur in Mysuru — and it's all thanks to their teacher, Shashikala G R.
In 2017, Shashikala, an assistant teacher at a government school developed a medicinal garden. She recalls, “With the help of agricultural experts and some villagers, I planted medicinal plants in the school premises. The main idea behind developing a medicinal garden was basically to teach students the importance of such plants. Usually, we don’t get to see these plants even in villages or anywhere in the cities.”
Shashikala G R, teacher at Government Primary School in Hunsur in Mysuru
Apart from teaching students about medicinal plants, Shashikala also started cultivating ragi, wheat, barley, vegetables and fruits. “Whenever students had to understand these simple concepts in Science, they had a lot of doubts and were finding it difficult to understand. That’s where the plants grown in the garden came to my rescue. Now, children in our school have better knowledge and understanding of agriculture than any UG or PG students. We have given them all the freedom to plant the saplings and experiment however they want to,” says the teacher who has won state awards for the garden developed at her school.
Then there is an ornamental garden that has a wide variety of ornamental flowers and plants. What makes the garden more unique is the five-layer farm developed by Lohith and his teacher Shashikala. She explains, “I was told by one of my friends about the five-layer garden developed in Rajasthan. We thought that we could also develop it on our school premises. We put a lot of effort in and it took a lot of time and we were successful in creating one. Five-layer farming refers to growing five varieties of crops with varying heights and rooting patterns. In this model, we have grown ginger, papaya, coriander and two other plants. These crops are grown with each other’s support in terms of watering or the pattern of rooting and so on.”
Ornamental garden at the school in Hunsur
The school children have been divided into two teams — shakti and shrama. Each team works on alternative days to water these plants or care for them in terms of adding manure and so on. Even during the pandemic, a few students would go to their school premises and switch on the motor only to water these plants. The school even has a rain water harvesting system so that the water can be utilised by children for various purposes.
For now, there are 63 students in this school and Shashikala has ensured that she provided them with a value system and skills in cultivating crops that will help her students stand apart from others in the future.