Indian High School started teaching gardening in 2008 as part of the science curriculum to develop understanding of concepts related to plant life and nutrients in food. Image Credit: Courtesy: Indian High School

Dubai: More schools in Dubai are teaching students how to grow food, believing that it is an important life skill that leads to increase in self-understanding and the ability to work in groups.

According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), more than 25 per cent of schools in Dubai are introducing their children to gardening.

Research has also found that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Gardening has also been linked with greater student achievement in science.

To learn more about how schools are implementing gardening programmes in Dubai Gulf News spoke to schools who said they have noticed positive changes in their students after introducing gardening classes.

CEO of Indian High School Ashok Kumar said his school started teaching gardening in 2008 as part of the science curriculum to develop understanding of concepts related to plant life and nutrients in food.

Kumar believes that gardening in the 21st century, especially of vegetables, fruits and other edible products, plays a very important role for a healthy and happy future generation.

“Gardening is an important life skill which provides students with a real-life experience and better understanding of all concepts related to plant life cycles, enables students to understand the value of food and prevent wastage and helps improve collaborative and co-operative learning and provides an engaging activity for students with learning disabilities or behaviour issues, to name a few,” he said.

Students in Indian High School have planted carrots, radish, onion, garlic, potatoes, brinjal, tomato, beans, green chillies, cauliflower, cabbage, mint, spinach, fenugreek and corn.

At Dubai British School, students from Foundation Stage one are taught about growing plants as part of their Forest School programme, said Amanda J. Holt Parent Relation Officer, Dubai British School.

“Gardening enables students to develop a life-long love and understanding for their natural environment while developing self-esteem, confidence and social skills. Unlike other forms of outdoor education which generally concentrate on team building, challenging activities or competitiveness, this initiative embraces an entirely different approach through nurturing,” said Holt.

“We have also built our very own mud kitchen and water investigation area to teach students about the different conditions plants need to grow. Learning about the effects of light and dark, as well as wet and dry mud and conditions is important to understand the fundamentals and basis for growing,” she said.

Jolt said Foundation students have started to learn about growing food by planting potatoes, learning that they need a wet environment to thrive, and shall be planting a variety of seeds in the coming weeks.

Students at Kindergarten Starters, Dubai, have also connected with nature by pursuing different green projects, said Geoffrey Blaquiere, Head of Fine Arts and Environmental Related Activities.

The students brought bougainville saplings and planted them in the rock garden outside Gates 4 and 5. They also took permission to adopt and green the barren land outside Gate 1 of their school.

“Today, we have a small patch of that barren land transformed into a lush green patch solely driven by collective student voice and power,” said Blaquiere.

Blaquiere said his students also came up with the idea of having a greenhouse where they are now planting organic brinjals, tomatoes, onions, cabbage and capsicum.

“The greenhouse has become an integral part of hands-on learning at KGS. This has inspired some of the students to grow their own vegetables at home as well,”

Besides these green spaces in and around the school, students and parents have also grown a small herb garden with aloe vera and basil. Kindergarten Starters was awarded the prestigious GREEN FLAG last June by the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF), for demonstrating consistent improvement in environmental performance within the school.