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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Bid to crack egg ignorance
It's a chicken-and-egg situation
A scheme to educate children in Scotland's cities about country life is being launched after almost a third of pupils questioned in a study said they did not know that eggs came from chickens.

The survey of eight and nine-year-olds at four inner-city schools suggested an ignorance of farming and food production.

Seventy per cent of the pupils in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee thought cotton came from sheep.

One little chap thought that you got orange juice from milk, because the milkman delivered orange juice to his door

Jamie Smart

More than half believed that oranges were grown in Scotland, while 30% did not know where eggs came from.

The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) interviewed 126 pupils for the study.

It has now launched a scheme to encourage pupils from more than 50 urban primary schools to visit farms to improve their knowledge of the countryside.

Six hundred farmers, who will also visit schools to speak to children, have volunteered to help with the project.

The trust admitted it was surprised by some of the findings from the survey, which was carried out by Jane Methven.

Some youngsters thought cows were milked weekly

She said: "30% of the children in the study weren't sure that eggs came from chickens.

"We have built that into the teaching, so these children in our city areas will be learning more about that."

She said that "quite a few" children thought that cows were milked once a week.

There was also a lack of understanding about Scotland's climate.

"A lot of children thought we grew peaches here, we grew oranges, we grew lemons," said Ms Methven.

'A lot of effort'

"They didn't make the link that we just don't have the sunshine to grow these crops in Scotland."

The RHET scheme has been launched with funding from the National Lottery and a supermarket chain.

Farmer Jamie Smart, from Linlithgow, is among those who will take part in the initiative.

"I feel there is a gap there, but it isn't unbridgeable," he said.

"We can do it, but it is going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort from as many people as we can get to be involved.

"One little chap thought that you got orange juice from milk, because the milkman delivered orange juice to his door."

We still get a lot of children who have never been to the countryside and never been on a farm

Jane Methven

BBC Scotland found that primary four pupils at one of the schools who will take part in the new initiative, Dalmuir Primary in Edinburgh, had a good general understanding of farming.

However, there were a few exceptions, with youngsters suggesting that eggs came from sheep and that potatoes came from cows.

One teacher said there was a gap in awareness between pupils in urban and rural areas.

The trust believes its project will enhance the school syllabus.

"We still get a lot of children who have never been to the countryside and never been on a farm," added Ms Methven.

"This project will give them the opportunity to get out into the countryside, which is a huge bonus."

BBC Scotland's Fiona Walker reports
"Children are learning how the food they eat actually gets to their plate"
BBC Scotland's Forbes McFall
"Farmers will visit schools to explain their job and way of life"
See also:

27 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Egg mystery cracked for Easter
16 Jan 02 | Health
'Toxic eggs' warning
05 Jul 00 | Health
An egg a day 'is good for you'
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