School agriculture graded like academic subjects
Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School in Thimphu studies agriculture as a subject and it carries 30 percent performance weighting.
Laxman Chhetri, the senior agricultural focal teacher said agriculture in the school is part of examination. The students are taught three hours of theory and an hour of practical in a week.
Besides the academic classes, the student work in their gardens on Sat- urdays and during club hours. He said the School Agriculture Program (SAP) is mainly for class VIII to encourage them to take up the agriculture subject in classes IX and X.
Laxman said their SAP is purely organic and the students are encouraged to use local materials like micro-organisms and sustainable watering methods. “It is a platform to diversity the education program as the government cannot give employment to all students after they complete their studies,” he said.
Vishal, 17, from class X say SAP is helpful and it benefits the students. The most interesting part of the agriculture program, he thinks, is grading students on it.
Yangchen, 18, says she has made the right decision to choose agriculture as a subject of her choice. “Working in the field and fetching marks in exams is a good practice,” she said.
Students are provided all the materials and areas are allocated individually during school time and there are caretakers who are responsible for crops and products in the winter.
The program is one of the most successful at the school. It has been awarded the best SAP initiative in the country for the last two years. Now, it has become an autonomous program.
Apart from SAP, the school is also engaged in fruits, mushroom and poultry to educate students on agriculture and livestock.
The products are sold only to students, teachers, and other staff members of the school since there is only enough quantities for them.
“Both the seller and costumer are recorded at the time of trading in order to keep clear accountability and transparency,” Luxman said.
The students are encouraged to take up the program as management is enhancing the activities such as education trips to various research centers and institutes.
Besides education, SAP helps generate some income for the school.