Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw (left); widow of the late Prime Minister Owen Arthur; Agronomist, Jacklyn Broomes, and other participants in the Owen Arthur Agrokids Initiative for Primary School tending to the plants in the greenhouse at West Terrace Primary School during the official launch of the programme yesterday. (B. Hinds/BGIS)

This island’s Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, is urging schools to consider using the produce grown in their gardens for fundraising instead of sugary drinks and snacks.

She made this suggestion today while addressing the launch of the Rotary and Rotaract Clubs of Barbados South, Owen Arthur Agrokids Initiative for Primary Schools, at West Terrace Primary School, St. James.

Ms. Bradshaw added: “I am speaking to the Principals and teachers…we have a responsibility that when we are raising funds for the school, we are not bringing in all the sugary snacks and sugary drinks and all of those things to make a little money on the side.  In fact, we may now have to move to pulling a few things from the garden, putting some of the money that the Ministry sends to the school into buying some bags and helping the children to package them and in turn to sell them….”

Commenting on eating habits and the rate of obesity across the region, she told the gathering that the Ministries of Education, Health and Wellness and other agencies cannot change the eating habits of citizens and suggested that efforts must be made to educate Barbadians to eat in moderation.

“It isn’t so much a case that we have to change our diet to the point where we eradicate every single thing that contains sugar. What we have to also do is to educate our young people and our country about using things in moderation. If you start by simply looking at the things in your cupboard, you would start to realise that a lot of the things as a society that we use are riddled with a lot of sugar,” she pointed out.

Ms. Bradshaw continued: “It therefore means that we have to educate, we have to sensitise our country, at the level of our communities…at the level of our schools because it is the only way that all of the efforts that we are doing collectively will result in anything that is meaningful.”

The Minister also threw out a challenge to teachers to find interesting ways to teach agriculture, with a suggestion that it could also be incorporated in the teaching of Mathematics in the classroom.

“There is no reason why you cannot be picking ten okras and add in 10 cucumbers and being able to say to children now what is the total of the fruits and the vegetables that you have collected. We have to be able to find ways to make agriculture interesting. We have to find ways on the curriculum to make subjects that are ordinarily frowned upon like the arts, or agriculture, integrated into what we do in everyday life,” Ms. Bradshaw underlined.

The Education Minister said she hoped the initiative would inspire other corporate entities to come on board with Government and the Ministry of Education to help them do some of the “heavy lifting”.

Meanwhile, Nutritionist Brian Payne of the National Nutrition Centre, said his department was fully supportive and pledged that the team stood ready to assist any entity with similar projects.

Widow of the late Prime Minister Professor Owen Arthur, Julie Arthur, expressed the family’s deep appreciation to the clubs for the project in honour of her late husband on the eve of his birthday, had he been alive. She said the family was keen to assist with the project when called upon.

The initiative, being piloted in four schools – George Lamming, Arthur Smith, Hillaby Turners Hall and West Terrace, aims to educate children about dietary habits and exercise; strengthen the country’s food security and sustainability; and mentor children to achieve their full potential.

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