The award ceremony for the ‘Promoting Herbal Gardens in Schools – Best Herbal Garden’ competition was held on 10 December at ICIMOD to mark International Mountain Day (11 December). The competition was jointly organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in collaboration with the Private and Boarding Schools’ Organization in Nepal (PABSON). The competition was launched six months ago on World Environment Day (5 June 2010). The aim of the competition was to familiarise schoolchildren with herbs and their uses.
The competition had three linked components: Herbal Poster with Recipe, Herbal Profile, and Herbal Garden. The first two components were completed earlier in 2010. The final component, the Herbal Garden, was evaluated during three monitoring visits over the six-month competition period, the last of which was on 25 November 2010.
The awards for ‘Best Herbal Garden’ were presented by Dr Michael Kollmair, Programme Manager of the Sustainable Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction division of ICIMOD, and Mr Juddha Bahadur Gurung, Member Secretary of the Governing Body of Trustees, NTNC, in a ceremony attended by students and teachers from 14 of the 15 participating schools, as well as representatives from NTNC, PABSON, and ICIMOD.
Winner: Vajra Academy
Special features: The entire school ground, which was initially a barren slope, was transformed into an herbal garden. All of the students of Vajra Academy were engaged in developing the garden. They students developed an innovative way of remembering the plant names – each student was given a scientific name of an herbal plant. On the final monitoring round, judges were also given an herbal plant name.
1st Runners Up: Suryodaya Jyoti Secondary School and Ullens School
2nd Runners Up: Loyalty Academy and Annal Jyoti Boarding School
Special Mentions: Rato Bangala and Aims Academy
The winner was awarded a cash prize of NRs. 22,000, the first runners up received NRs. 10,000 each, and the second runners up NRs. 8000 each. The two special mentions received NRs. 5000 each, along with certificates and herbal plant saplings. All participating schools received International Mountain Day posters, brochures, and the International Mountain Day message from the ICIMOD Director General, as well as souvenirs and publications from the organisers, ICIMOD and NTNC.
During the awards ceremony, Dr Nirmal Bhattarai of ICIMOD presented overall highlights and impressions of the herbal gardens on behalf of the judges from ICIMOD and NTNC. Ms Bidya Banmali Pradhan, a member of the core project team, spoke on the scaling up of the ‘Promoting Herbal Gardens in Schools’ in 2011. The seven winning schools will continue to maintain their existing gardens and help three public schools, at least one of which must be outside the Kathmandu Valley, to create an herbal garden in 2011. This initiative will support the private-public partnership framework promoted by the Ministry of Education, Government of Nepal. The school management bodies also showed their willingness to commit to the scaling up of the project.
During the next phase of the competition, the seven winning schools will be judged on their effort replication, promote, and guide the herbal gardens in the three public schools. The remaining eight participating schools will again compete for ‘Best Herbal Garden’ in 2011 to coincide with World Environment Day 2011.
ICIMOD, being a regional institution, plans to take this idea to its regional member countries in 2011. As a first step, ICIMOD is joining hands with the Royal Government of Bhutan to bring the concept to Bhutanese schools. Bhutan is holding the Regional Summit on Climate Change Adaptation in October 2011; the Summit will provide a good platform for showcasing the efforts of our future generation to conserve herbs and learn about their uses. It is hoped that participants from other countries attending the Summit will be inspired to take up this idea in their home countries.
Representatives from three of the participating schools, Mr Ishwor Khadka from Mount Glory English Boarding High School; Ms Achala Thapa, Principal of Vajra Academy; and Ms Milan Dixit, Principal of Rato Bangala, shared their schools’ experiences of the Herbal Garden competition at the programme.
Mr Lachhe Bahadur KC of PABSON, who also spoke on this occasion, appreciated the efforts of ICIMOD and NTNC and emphasised the importance of the sustainability of such efforts. The programme ended with encouraging remarks by Dr Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD and a vote of thanks by Ms Nira Gurung, a member of the core project team.
Posters portraying the herbal gardens of the participating schools were on display in front of the Bhutan pavilion before and during the programme. The day concluded with a photo session and refreshments.
Winner: Vajra Academy
1st Runners Up: Suryodaya Jyoti Secondary School
1st Runners Up: Ullens School
2nd Runners Up: Loyalty Academy
2nd Runners Up: Annal Jyoti Boarding School
Special Mentions: Rato Bangala
Special Mentions: Aims Academy