Cover Image
close this bookPrimary School Agriculture: Volume I: Pedagogy (GTZ, 1985, 144 p.)
close this folderPart II: Teaching methods
close this folder5. Special problems related to school farm work
View the document(introduction...)
View the document5.1 Farm care during holidays
View the document5.2 Income

5.1 Farm care during holidays

Farm crops and weeds do not stop growing because there are school holidays. As can be seen from the table on p. 91, there is a lot of work to be done in the holiday periods, and many schools have suffered great losses because they did not organize farm work during holidays well enough. These losses are due to poor farm care as well as to theft. The following example is drawn from a country where the long holidays coincide with the main rainy season. (August-September).

1. Work Needs on School Farms during Holidays

The following ideas and suggestions are based on oral and written comments made by teachers when confronted with the problem.

The question of how to arrange a schedule of work during the holidays will have to be answered by taking local conditions and habits into account. Market days have advantages and disadvantages. It might happen that not all the crops harvested can be sold. This raises the problem of storage, and many schools are ill-prepared for storing any type of crops. Therefore, some teachers think that there is need for considerable publicity in order to make sure that all the crops are sold. Other teachers argue that there is no need to take any notice of market days. Our starting point was the problem of how to get pupils to come at the scheduled time. Since market days are days when almost everybody gathers around the market, it might be easier to get pupils then than on ordinary days. Also, in some areas market days are such important events that dates relating to market days will easily be remembered.

One ought to keep in mind that school farm care during the holidays not only means harvesting and selling but also:

- looking after the crops still growing but which are not ready for harvesting, e.g. yams, colocasia, xanthosoma, cassava, pineapple etc. (these need occasional weeding and mulching);

- controlling, especially during rainy season;

- preparing for new crops; most schools miss the season for late maize although the farmers in the area manage to grow a late maize crop. If tilling could at least be started towards the end of the holidays, the school would benefit from a late maize harvest. Thus is the more important since the harvesting would fall in term time and could very well be used for teaching purposes.

Arrangements will have to be made for all these jobs, and here, reference to the market day would be of great help. Where pupils are needed by their parents on the days preceding market day, it might be possible to call them in for school farm work on the day after market day.

Holiday Period


Watching and Tending

Farm Preparation


· Maize

· Yams

· Melons

· Xanthosoma

· Egusi

· Colocasia

· Yams

· Cassava

· Pineapples and other Perennials


As in August

· Late Maize

· Late Beans

· Cowpeas

· Vegetables


· Maize

· Maize

· Yams


· Beans

· Pineapples and other Perennials

· (Coffee)


· Maize Weeding


· Beans Weeding

· Yams

· Pineapples and other Perennials

2. Respecting the Schedule

Teachers must themselves make sure that pupils turn up at the right time. Yet a few teachers do believe that it is sufficient to draft a plan of work, appoint pupils as group leaders, and discuss the plan of work in detail. This, they say, would ensure that the pupils turn up on time and follow the schedule. In our opinion this is highly doubtful. Firstly, planning ahead might be possible for harvesting maize and for regular maintenance work, but it is impossible as far as the preparation work for new crops is concerned. On the whole this proposal is not realistic.

Many teachers seem to have passed on information successfully through the churches. During service, a date for harvesting or other work on the school farm is anounced. This announcement reaches pupils and parents alike. Also, it is given via an institution which has good standing in the community. However, the pastor will certainly not be willing to make an announcement if it is a pupil who asks him. There will always be a teacher who takes an occasional look at the school farm. When he decides to harvest he should inform the pastor. The presence of at least one teacher during the holiday period is absolutely necessary. The same is true if information is to be passed through local gatherings. We concede, however, that in semi-urban or urban communities where there is a large number of churches, local societies and "meetings", such an approach might be difficult since the teacher in charge would have to contact many of them at a time.


1. Remember that it is not only harvesting that has to be done during holidays. Losses due to late harvesting are indeed heavy. But losses due to lack of farm care can be equally heavy. Thus, the first and second weeding of maize, so very important for good yields, usually falls in the Easter holidays. Many schools lose a late maize or bean crop because planting in the middle or towards the end of October is too late for a dry season crop to do well.

2. In any case, in order to ensure proper timing of work, the presence of a teacher is required. Only exceptionally can he/she be replaced by a conscientious member of the Parent-Teacher-Association.

3. As far as harvesting is concerned, a reminder through churches and local societies or meetings will be sufficient to ensure that the previously appointed pupils turn up for work. It would also be a means of informing prospective buyers. Harvesting will usually be done in a single day.

4. Where dates close to the weekly market are convenient, these may be chosen. People will remember them easily as the local market is of great importance. But avoid clashes with market days. If there is a danger that crops put out for sale might not be sold, it is preferable to choose some other day both for harvesting and selling.

5. There is need for a pre-established duty roster for guarding the school farm and for looking after the growing crop. Farm care sessions for weeding/mulching, earthing up etc. might be organised once every two weeks during holidays. Here again, reminders through churches and societies will be very useful.

6. Depending on the weather, preparation of the farm for maize and leguminous crops can be undertaken towards the second half of the last holiday month in the course of the weekly sessions.

3. Selecting Pupils for Holiday Work

The pupils are chosen by headmasters and farm masters, although sometimes the class teachers, head boys and head girls also help in selecting those who are to participate. Pupils selected for holiday duty usually live not too far away from school.

As important as the distance from the school is the pupils' character. Experienced teachers insist that only willing, reliable, careful, and honest pupils be appointed. In order to make doubly sure they should be grouped in teams, all the team members coming from one and the same quarter. It seems to be difficult, sometimes, to get children of relatively well-to-do parents to do holiday assignments. The easiest solution is to leave them out, but this is unfair. The principle of social justice rules out any solution where only the children of the poor have to work. Patient and careful negotiation is needed in order to establish firmly a tradition of holiday farm duties among parents, pupils, and teachers.

Since not all pupils can take part in school farm work during holidays, those who are appointed must be rewarded in some way. Rewards could be largely non-material, such as additional marks in Rural Science or Agriculture, public honours after the start of the new school year or the term, but some material reward is necessary in most cases. If they do not receive any reward, the pupils may simply take part of the harvest for themselves. With the usual problems of supervision, this cannot be avoided. Material rewards could be part of the harvest, part of the income from the sale, or small presents like pens, pencils, or exercise books. In any case, losses due to a delayed harvest or poor weeding are often relatively great, and it is only fair that those who carry out an extra assignment receive part of the extra income which their work has produced.

4. The Role of Parents in Farm Care during Holidays

The role of parents in the success of any holiday arrangement cannot be overemphasized. It is absolutely crucial. They are free to tell the children what to do during the holidays and can actually; prevent them from going to school. Their goodwill and cooperation is essential. Two things make fruitful cooperation between parents and teachers difficult: distrust and inadequate knowledge of the educational value of school farm work.

Individual parents and members of the School Committee or Village Education Committee often accuse teachers of using the school farm for their own benefit and of exploiting the children. Since they cannot prevent this exploitation during term time, they are not prepared to encourage it during the holidays, especially at a time when they need the children's labour themselves.

Teachers have suggested that parents and pupils should be fully informed about the school farm records, and that the School Committee should be invited to be present when the school crops are sold. Knowledge about the income produced and the way it is spent will build up confidence and mutual trust. Linked to this is the thought in some parents' minds that the school farm has no educational value. This is no surprise when one takes into account the poor performance of many school farms, the lack of integration between school farm work and teaching in Rural Science and other subjects, and parents' aspirations that their children will get a job other than farming.

The attitude of parents towards school farm work in general is often hostile, and therefore it is hostile towards work assignments during the holidays. To counter this, the school must make an effort to clarify the educational meaning of primary school agriculture, and thus build up an atmosphere of trust.

Where friendly links between school and parents exist, parents not only encourage their children to work during the holidays but they themselves help occasionally.

5. Teachers and School Farm Work during Holidays

If school farm work during the holidays is to be effective, at least one teacher must be present. Pupils need at least some guidance, control, and encouragement. Headmasters and farm masters should devise a duty roster, making sure that at least one staff member is present on the school compound at any one time. A copy of these duty rosters should be sent to the Inspector in charge.

- Pupils who help during holidays should be rewarded.
- For school farm work during holidays, one teacher at least should be present.