The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: United Kingdom School to Offer Orchids? Conservation Skills to Rwandan Pupils

A team of five teachers and students from Orchid Project at Writhlington School in South West England are in the country to explore potential schools where they can start Orchid conservation skills project.

The Writhlington School Orchid Project is a self-funded UK school that combines horticulture, science and conservation.

The group led by Simon Pugh-Jones, who runs the project at Writhlington School, yesterday, met Rwanda Ministry of Education officials to brief them about their project.

"Over the last 20 years we have developed an orchid project where students learn to grow orchids from seeds for conservation and enterprise. We are looking forward to work very closely with the Rwanda schools so that Rwandan children become the producers of the fantastic orchids in this country for enterprise and conservation," Pugh-Jones told journalists in Kigali.

He stated that Orchids offer valuable products for any country and tell stories about the special places the country has and its reserves.

The Orchids are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants with colourful and fragrant blooms.

The students at Writhlington School have been growing their own orchids from seeds in their laboratories using laminar air flow hoods to germinate seed in vitro.

They have spectacular, state-of-the-art greenhouses filled with species orchids which they successfully flower and pollinate to collect more seed.

"All students learn to propagate orchids from seed as part of their science curriculum and many students devote their lunch and break times, after school, weekends and holidays to work in the project," Pugh-Jones explained.

The students produce award winning displays of their plants and make sales at orchid and horticultural shows around the UK and abroad.

Pugh-Jones added that they were attracted to Rwanda by one of their colleague from Burundi who told them about the beauty of the country. "Consequently we started getting in touch with people here in Rwanda involved in education conservation."

Without naming the first schools to benefit from the Orchid project, the Writhlington official said they would start in about five pilot schools and eventually the project will grow and become big part of Rwanda's education system.

According to Pugh-Jones, the project has been successful in many schools in India, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Belize, Brazil, and South Africa.

Mathias Harebamungu, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, expressed gratitude towards Orchid project which he said help would promote conservation science in Rwandan schools.

"It's an excellent project that promotes science education and in Rwanda, science education and, technology is at the core of our education system," the minister told Writhlington officials in an event held at the Ministry of Education head offices in Kigali.

"We shall work closely with you to ensure that it becomes part of our curriculum."

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