Participation, agency, and youth voice in establishing school gardens: comparing cases from Kenya and Papua New Guinea

Graham Walker, Amy Vos, Kenneth Monjero, Trudie Sikas-Iha, Robyn Alders

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This community case study investigates the establishment of school gardens in Kenya and Papua New Guinea (PNG), focussing on engagement and participation. The gardens are intersectional interventions addressing education, health and nutrition, food security, career development, and life skills. We focus on engagement between implementing agencies and schools—including youth—during establishment as it influences garden governance, activity, and organizational and educational cultures going forward. Following a synthesis of school garden literature, country contexts, and participation and engagement models, we present two case studies based on narrative interviews with in-country project managers, project experiences, and desktop reviews. Analysis reveals distinct culturally and project-influenced typologies of participation and engagement—Kenya’s was bottom-up driven by student participation, whereas PNG was top-down with little student participation—with differences affecting school and student garden ownership and motivation. The findings provide valuable lessons for low- and middle-income countries’ (LMIC) school garden establishment, particularly in understanding how evolving project goals affect engagement, managing power differentials in top-down and bottom-up models, considering how educational and broader culture affects student participation, emphasizing the need for cultural capacity building in implementing agencies, and recognizing the potential of school gardens as assets in disrupting educational norms and student-centered approaches.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    JournalFrontiers in Communication
    Publication statusPublished - 2024

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