YEAR Six pupil Nur Sabrina Nuzul Shaiful used to feel squeamish at the sight of earthworms wriggling in soil.
These days, not only is the SK Seri Perling 2 pupil not turned off by the invertebrate creatures, she feels comfortable holding them with bare hands for her school’s composting project.
“Through the project, I have learned that worms offer many benefits to the environment such as increasing soil fertility and repairing damaged soil.
“My school has been involved in vermicomposting or worm composting since 2021 where we turn food scraps from our canteen into compost.
“That is where I learned that it is safe to handle worms as we need to fill up a worm bin with a mix of food scraps and bedding made from dried leaves.
“We loosen up materials in the bin from time to time for them to break down into compost over a period of time.
“The compost is then used as fertiliser for the school’s vegetable and fruit garden,” she said when interviewed by StarMetro at the school in Taman Perling, Johor Baru.
Year Five pupil Ahmad Imran Aidzil Nawal, who is also part of the school’s Environmental Club, said his favourite part about composting was the opportunity to get his hands dirty.
“At home, my mother does not let me play with sand or soil so it is fun to get to do it in school.
“I also like explaining about the composting process to the other pupils and guests to our school,” said Ahmad Imran, who is active in public speaking.
He added that he would read articles about composting as he was fascinated by the Takakura composting method, which is suitable for residents in high-rise buildings as it used only boxes.
Headmistress Haliza Jufri said the composting project started as a solution to abundance of dried leaves at the school’s compound.
“We started looking at ways to prevent waste and open burning, and realised that the dried leaves, coupled with food waste, could be turned into organic compost.
“At the same time, we can train our students to be more environmentally aware and hopefully carry on the message to their families as well,” she said, adding that the composting centre, along with its vegetable and fruit patch were good learning tools for the pupils.
Haliza added that the pupils’ hands-on involvement in planting crops such as herbs, padi, kangkung, tomatoes, lemongrass and pineapple also encouraged them to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The composting project, she said, received a RM20,000 grant from Iskandar Puteri City Council under its Iskandar Puteri Low Carbon Community Grant programme that was used to construct the composting centre.
In the following year, the school received another grant of RM11,000 from the same programme to buy a bigger leaf crusher to produce larger quantities of compost.
Through this project, the school managed to save 5kg of food scraps from its canteen from ending up in the landfill weekly, she said.
“Our next focus is to go into research and development so that we can one day market our compost and generate income for the school,” said Haliza.