Aquaponics comes to Catalunan Pequeño Elementary School

Catalunan Pequeño E.S. started the 2018-19 school year with 2210 students and 57 teachers. Many of the students are malnourished as regrettably is the case in all of the Talomo District schools. Through the generosity of the Maitland Rotary Club, the School Principal Asuncion Infiesto and the Health and Nutrition Coordinator Roneil Basan have established a very innovative aquaponics system which involves the propagation of vegetables as well as fish.

The school has a proud tradition of vegetable production on an extensive scale and has been most successful in supplementing the School - Based Feeding Program (SBFP) with produce over the last few years.  Last year Catalunan Pequeño  won the Davao City competition for Best School Garden Implementor of Gulayan sa Paaralan Program (GPP) at Elementary Level,  presented by the Office of the City Agriculture.

Catalunan Pequeño also won the Region’s award for the Brigada Eskwela 2018 which is a nationwide voluntary effort of teachers, parents, students, community members and other organisations to do minor repairs and clean-ups of their school in preparation for the start of the school year. This is an outstanding achievement given that there are nearly 1800 schools in the Region!

The aquaponics project has great potential as both a source of food for the SBFP and also as a vehicle to foster learning in other curriculum areas such as Math, Science and Technology.

Asuncion Infiesto explained why the project is important to the school. “The teaching staff and parents of Catalunan Pequeño Elementary School have established an Aquaponics Project inside the Gulayan sa Paaralan as part of a major academic and practical hands-on activity of Grade Four, Grade Five and Grade Six pupils in their Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE), English, Filipino, Mathematics and Science programs. The project actualises the different systematic, scientific, gardening and thinking skills, which collaborate through the project to enhance pupils’ understanding of the outside environment and promote learning through practical activities.”

She went on to explain that the parent contribution to the aquaponics project included painting and carpentry work and that she believes that the sustainability of the project for the future would be enhanced through parent collaboration in setting a work schedule in the garden, monitoring growth of plants and fish, and helping feed the fish, chickens and tilling of the soil. The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) is also very supportive of the project in providing sustenance for the parent volunteers. This is a great example of a working partnership between the school and all of its stakeholders.

We shall follow the progress of this exciting and inventive new project at Catalunan Pequeno with great interest.

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