Our ISAG Journey: St. Gracious Secondary School

Hi; I am Emmanuel Opio, a teacher and Head of Department for Agriculture at St Gracious secondary school Lira. In today’s era, practical learning is absolutely necessary, especially in the vocational and pre-vocational subjects which includes agriculture. In my homeland, Uganda,
agriculture rings the loudest bell, being the back bone of the economy, due to its ability to employ over 80% of the citizens and uphold food security. So, it is in the best interest of many schools to have many agricultural projects that support hands on learning. This may present shortcomings in different ways but most commonly, finances. The good news is that some schools including St. Gracious secondary school were able to get a lift financially and that is what I would like to share with you today. At “SAGRASS” we now have a fully running poultry project where our learners freely interact with and are able to see and touch everything they learn about poultry and this was made possible by the grant given by Inspiring Students of Agriculture Grant (ISAG) under Field of Hope. The ISAG grant was to the tune of 1000 US dollars from which we were able to buy the stock, feeds, equipment, medicines and vaccines. I got to know about Field of Hope through a social media forum after which I applied for teacher training program. During the training, we were guided on how we could apply for the Field of Hope ISAG grant.

That was in the year 2023. We wrote our project proposal which was approved after scrutiny by Field of Hope staff . We later wrote a business plan, submitted and were approved by Field of Hope followed by a feasibility visit (assessment of the school readiness to host the project) by their staff. This was followed by signing of the memorandum of Understanding between school and Field of Hope. The grant was released into the school account. At St. Gracious secondary school, we started rearing 254 chickens from chick stage that provided a comprehensive learning experience for our students. The breed we keep is a mixed, dual-purpose. We are having a steady progress with a few challenges which are learning areas for the students.

We hope to have a 20% increase in the number of birds by the next stocking. The success of the Field of hope project funded by ISAG at our school is basically attributed to the strict observation of rules by the students in the management areas of feeding, parasite and
disease control, biosecurity and general housing conditions. The project has changed a lot if things already, from making learning easy and real to igniting interest of students and even teachers to practically take up poultry farming. All poultry related lessons are all being conducted from within the premises of the poultry house. The project has enhanced hands on experience and has encouraged practical learning.

The students are self-motivated in doing the project work and surprisingly we have already witnessed a rise in the number of students leaving other optional subject for Agriculture. It has stimulated some students to start their own at home which has greatly impacted the community like on one occasion the deputy of the school requested for the breeders contact and ordered his stock immediately, since he already had the structure.

On behalf of St. Gracious secondary school I would like to acknowledge the support of Field of Hope ISAG grant and confirm that it is really helpful to the learners, staff and the community out there and for the first time I feel like a great teacher. You are really doing a big job in the move to ensure sustainable agriculture for a stable global food security.

BRAVO, Field of Hope! BRAVO, ISAG.

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