The Gweru Drop-in Centre caters to the needs of the city’s street children, aiming to rehabilitate them into mainstream society and education, reunifying them with their families, and providing a meal every week day. Through ALERT, a Basic Life Skills course was introduced to help students develop ‘soft skills’ that will support them in their lives.
Last month, two of the lessons were devoted to social interaction. Students learned that social interaction can have either a positive or a negative influence on other people. As the street children witness anti-social behaviour in their everyday lives, including drug taking and alcohol abuse, highlighting the benefits of giving and receiving positive social contact was a key objective.
During the first session, the children were given a platform to express their feelings, talk about their dreams, and share their problems. The aim of this was to promote positive thinking and boost self-confidence. As these children can be reluctant to share their feelings, the discussion took place informally while they were making loom band bracelets; an activity they all enjoy and are comfortable with.
The following week, students were given a refresher session on drug and alcohol abuse; what are drugs, why the use of illegal drugs is bad for you, and the negative effects of alcohol on the body. Again, this was presented in an interactive way, through a game of musical chairs where the person without a chair had to correctly answer a question relating to the topic. The students showed that they remembered what they had been taught previously, however, as drug and alcohol abuse is a major issue on the streets, this is a topic that will be revisited again.
April saw the street children join forces with Antelope Park volunteers to begin work on improvements to the vegetable garden. After working side-by-side to clear the garden and dig trenches, they all shared a meal together cooked over an open fire; a special end to a busy day.
About the Basic Life Skills Course
The aim of the Basic Life Skills Course is to assist children and adolescents to gain essential skills needed to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way. Topics in the course include; self-esteem, coping with stress, effective communication, decision making, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution. The course has been developed by David Brackstone of John Taylor High School, UK using a programme in use at that school and adapted for use in our schools in Africa.
About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)
Basic Life Skills courses are one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres. The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students. Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy. In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students. Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training. The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK). The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.
Join us at the AEC
There are a number of ways you can join our AEC projects to assist in the delivery of the AECs various programmes. Click on the following links for further information:
- Those with some teaching experience can join our Teaching in Africa internship
- Researchers interested in assisting us assess AEC programmes can join our Research in the Community Internship
- If your interest is in teaching about conservation, you can also join the programme as a Conservation Education Intern
- Even if you have no teaching experience, there is still much you can do to help deliver our various courses as part of our volunteer programmes
Support the AEC
If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.