April 1, 2021 1:18:16 am
Apart from the usual playground and assembly area, for the last two years, the open spaces of a government school in South West Delhi have also been developed into a ‘butterfly garden’.
The garden at Government Co-ed Senior Secondary School, Sector 5, RK Puram had started as an initiative by English teacher Ankita Singh Yadav two years ago. “Even as part of my English teaching, nature conservation and the rhythm of nature has been one of my favourite areas,” she said.
The garden takes up around four strips of the school grounds, where space not essential for other school activities could be spared and the light conditions were optimum. Here, the school has been growing plants such as vajradanti, bryophytes andparijat, which are ‘friendly’ and conducive for attracting butterflies.
In a count that she did last month, Yadav said she noticed four different kinds of butterflies — common jays, red Pierrots, swifts and cycads.
“I feel like this space teaches children a few different things. One, that you don’t need a huge space. You can make the limited space you have nurturing and friendly for other lives. It also teaches them that what are usually considered ‘wild plants’ can actually be very good. With the aim of beautification, people go for planting ornamental plants. But here we see how these weeds and plants can support this life better,” she said.
One year into the pandemic, the children of the school have not been engaged in the garden since they have been away from the institution during this period. However, before that, they were involved in watering the plants, poster-making and essay writing on butterflies, their life cycles, and their habitats. Among the children watering the plants, particularly involved were ‘buniyaad students’ — students who were identified as having gaps in their foundational learning, for whom the government has special learning interventions.
“The simple activity gave them a positive feeling of achievement… We are expecting that in September, there will be even more types of butterflies, and that by then all the children will be back and can be involved with the garden,” said Yadav.
Yadav said that she got her idea for this garden from her own birding and buttery sighting outings at the Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS) Conservation Education Centre in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. She said the BNHS had helped the school set up the garden by assisting them with plantation. The students of the school’s eco-club have also visited the Centre themselves in the past, and have gone on to visit the Aravali Biodiversity Park.
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