The aim of ALERT’s conservation education programme is to encourage children and local communities’ engagement with the natural environment in which they live, and to assist them in understanding the advantages of living alongside and conserving local wildlife, habitat and ecosystems.
While the first school holidays of the year began in April, students from Mukamusaba School in Livingstone were still busy learning about different habitats for wildlife.
In the first lesson, students were put into pairs to talk about the environment in which they live. While one described their environment, the other drew a picture to match that description. The students then switched roles. Afterwards, they compared drawings and discussed how their environments could be improved. They were then asked to think about their own ‘habitats’ and answer the following questions:
- What are the features that make it a good place to live in?
- What are the challenges of living there?
- Who shares their habitat?
To end this lesson, the students compared their homes to wild habitats and the organisms that live there.
To build on the previous lesson, the next session focused on describing different habitats of both plants and animals, investigating different biomes in Africa, and identifying the challenges animals face in each habitat. Students were divided into four groups, each one representing a different biome: forest, savannah, wetland and desert. Using images to help them, students described their biome and listed some of the challenges faced by animals in that particular environment. At the end of the lesson, the groups came together to share their findings.
During the next lesson, the emphasis was on understanding that some organisms are suited to only one type of biome, whilst others can survive in different ones. In small groups, students discussed potential threats to biomes, and what could happen to inhabitants if those biomes changed.
In order to understand the essential services that biomes provide to organisms, students were put into two groups and each asked to design an enclosure that would cater for an animal’s basic needs. When finished, they compared their designs and discussed the limitations of their enclosures, and also the features of a biome that are impossible to replicate in an enclosure.
About ALERT’s Conservation Education Project
Our conservation education syllabus was developed by ALERT in partnership with Coventry University and David Brackstone of John Taylor High School. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the syllabus in changing attitudes towards a more positive view of conservation has been undertaken by Coventry University as well as by Ruth Armstrong, of Edinburgh Napier University. ALERT has also established a tripartite agreement between ALERT, Copperbelt University (Zambia) and Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) to improve conservation education provision in these two countries.
The syllabus has four main objectives:
- to increase participants’ awareness of their environment and assist them in developing sound judgement in the management of natural resources;
- to involve participants in activities to increase their understanding of environmental issues;
- to encourage participants to develop the ability to view situations from an environmental point of view, and to undertake simple investigations and interpret the results, and;
- to emphasize to participants the potential of the environment as a source of benefits and therefore something to conserve, manage and sustain.
This work combines science with local knowledge, to ensure we deliver a conservation education curriculum that positively impacts upon students’ attitudes and behaviours, and is culturally appropriate for the children and communities we reach.
About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)
Conservation Education is 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
ALERT offers a Conservation Education internship for those keen to gain hands-on teaching experience, while contributing to the protection and preservation of Africa’s wildlife. Interns will help in preparing and delivering lessons both in the classroom and on field trips. The syllabus encompasses environmental conservation, ecology and biodiversity, sustainability, and wildlife ecology and management. If you are interested in an internship at the AEC at Antelope Park click here full details.
Make a donation to support our work.
If you are able to contribute to fund our conservation education programme, you can make a donation here.