Success Story – Farmer Educator

INMED South Africa Charles Duna Primary School

An Educator With Farming In His Blood

Jarren Gangiah, a Grade 7 Science teacher at Charles Duna Primary School in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, is no ordinary science teacher.

With over 1060 pupils at the school in New Brighton, he is passionate about enhancing the lives and minds of his students and the surrounding communities.

“We are as a collective in pursuit of opportunities, experiences and activities that will develop our learners to excel in the 21st-century world,” says Gangiah, who is also the Coding Programme subject head for the school’s Science and Technology Coordinator of Robotics. “Partnering with INMED South Africa and their Health in Action programme has been such a positive experience.”

Health in Action is a partnership of INMED South Africa and the Mondelēz International Foundation to promote access to fresh foods via school gardens, nutrition and healthy lifestyles education and participatory fitness activities in low-resourced primary schools.

Gangia, an avid lover of agriculture himself, says farming is in his blood, having parents who farm potatoes and pigs in KZN. He passionately shares with his students the knowledge of how to use and care for the land, a love that has been passed down through the generations.

Charles Duna actively maintains a fresh produce garden as part of the Health in Action programme. Students and teachers utilize a growing tunnel and garden patches to cultivate fresh vegetables, which they supply to the school’s kitchen and sell to generate income for unemployed community members. The school will be the first Health in Action school in Port Elizabeth to receive an INMED Aquaponics® system, which will significantly increase the amount of fresh produce for the school and raise exotic ornamental fish. Gangia says, “This opportunity will allow us to grow fresh produce in the system while also breeding fish that we will sell to local pet stores and community members in Port Elizabeth.” The school will also use waste from its kitchen for composting, making the whole project organic and sustainable.

The programme has integrated learners and allowed them to learn how to care for fish stock, including feeding, checking water quality, and creating the right conditions for healthy, happy fish.

There has also been a positive spin-off to the community. “In time, we want to invite community members to workshops at Charles Duna Primary to learn how to reproduce these systems at home. They can then provide themselves with fresh produce or sell to provide an income,” he explains.

Gangia, with the support of INMED, is keen to expand the programme to produce ornamental and food stock fish and expand its capacity to grow fresh produce using the aquaponics system. “We need expertise and support in the forms of workshops, resources and hands-on experience to make this a success,” he says. “INMED has the opportunity to open its first school-based aquaponics project in Port Elizabeth, where we can collaborate to make this a success.”

“Partnering with Charles Duna Primary on this project would be an opportunity for INMED to expand production capacity for our INMED Aquaponics Social Enterprise and inspire agro-entrepreneurship in the communities of Port Elizabeth,” notes Unathi Sihlahla, INMED South Africa Programme Director.

Gangia says the impact will extend far beyond Port Elizabeth. “With this project, we are developing learners who can go out and make this country greater, with more sustainable values and creative ways of generating an income than ever been before,” he says, “encouraging more schools to integrate aquaponics into their curricula.”

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