Teachers and students at the Harrison Memorial High School in Montego Bay started the new school year with a brand new drip irrigation system that will improve the learning experience for students pursuing agricultural studies in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.
The irrigation system, installed thanks to a grant of JA$320,000 under the Sandals Foundation Team Member Support Program, is considered the most efficient irrigation method, mitigating soil erosion and wastage through direct water absorption and preventing run-off.
Winsome Willis, principal of the high school noted that previously, students were only able to participate in the theoretical aspects of farming but with the new irrigation system they will now have the opportunity to carry out practical skills that will enable effective learning of applied agricultural practices.
Regional Public Relations Manager of the Sandals Resorts (Montego Bay), Khadine Daley, stated that the team at Sandals Montego Bay was proud to have helped make this project possible by identifying and nominating it to be a part of the Sandals Foundation’s annual Team Member Support Program which awards US$2,500 per year, per hotel, to a worthy community project.
Adding that the irrigation system will lead to the sale of cash crops and the sustainability of the program, Daley said, “Through this programme, students will not only get a better sense of farming but also small-business development and management.” With two months, the schools have reaped many benefits from the programme as they have successfully harvested produce such as peppers, and bak choi and is expected to reap cabbage, tomatoes. It is expected that the students will be charged with turning over these items into profit which will assist with future expenses of purchasing seeds, farming equipment and other maintenance fees.
“With the completion of this project, our faculty and students are extremely excited about exploring the prospect of self-sufficiency through agriculture and we are truly grateful to the Sandals Foundation for making this wish of ours possible,” said Ms. Willis. She added that Harrison Memorial’s over 250 students will no longer be confined to the classroom but will now be in the field, participating in experimental learning where they will observe and analyze land preparation and the relationship between plants, animals and climate. A total of 67 students will now be able to sit the 2018 CXC exams in Agricultural Science.
The project is in its first phase which was rolled out last year at the school that will progress into poultry & rearing (phase two) along with greenhouse production (phase three) for a larger income generation.
Each year, Sandals Foundation invites employees of the Sandals and Beaches Resorts to submit ideas for projects in their communities which are then reviewed and approved by the Foundation’s Advisory Board. The selected projects satisfy the criteria of supporting the mission of the Sandals Foundation to invest in the areas of Education, Community and Environment throughout the Caribbean.