Seeding survival: The value of school gardens in under-resourced communities in Cape Town
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Theses written by undergraduates in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education's Honors Program.
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Amid the growing effort in environmental education to foster links between children and nature, school gardens are one focus of increasing attention. Research on school gardens suggests positive outcomes for students in academic achievement, personal development, health and nutrition, community development, and environmental attitudes. Although the World Bank categorizes South Africa as an upper-middle income country, the country remains plagued by stark disparities in quality of life, health and education. Because of the aforementioned benefits, under-resourced areas of South Africa would seem to benefit from school garden programs, yet evidence from research and practice indicate that school gardens may be expensive and challenging to maintain. This tension raises a question: are school gardens worth the financial and human resources required to create and maintain them? This study addresses this tension by asking: in what ways do teachers, principals and caretakers in under-resourced schools in Cape Town value school gardens? The data were collected through interviews with 44 teachers, principals, and caretakers from 7 schools. Findings suggest that interviewees valued the following, in decreasing order of salience: teaching students skills to grow food, immediate and long-term nutrition, academic achievement, and environmental education-related outcomes. Participants also suggested that school gardens are one of the only places for students to gain certain experiences and skills. The data constellated around one theme: the garden spoke to the importance of greater self-sufficiency for all involved. In this way, the school gardens, helped conceptions of environmental education to converge with everyday living. These findings call attention to the diverse values held by school communities and provide insight into the future implementation, design, and framing of school gardens in South Africa and beyond.
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- Seeding survival: The value of school gardens in under-resourced communities in Cape TownRich, H. R. (2013). Seeding survival: The value of school gardens in under-resourced communities in Cape Town (Unpublished undergraduate Honors thesis). Stanford University, Stanford CA.
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