An update on conservation education provision in Gweru
May 19 2017

The aim of the ALERT Education Centre (AEC) through its 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.

To date, 90 students from Takunda Primary School in Gweru have graduated from the ALERT Education Centre (AEC). 

After completing all six modules of the curriculum, the most recent group of students visited Antelope Park to consolidate their new-found knowledge about conservation.  This exciting day gave the children the opportunity to interact with elephants, go on a game drive, have a snake induction, enjoy a horse ride and see the lions.  By taking part in these activities, we hope that students will be further inspired to want to do their part - no matter how small - to preserve wildlife and the environment.

During the course, the children were able to interact with volunteers from all over the World, learning about their different countries and cultures too.   

In a lesson about recycling, students were taught how to use recycled material to produce their own food. Using a plastic bottle as a vase, they planted a sunflower sprout, which they then took home and were responsible for looking after.  This was to help them appreciate the health benefits of growing their own food as a way to eat healthily.

Other topics covered during the course included African Habitats; different habitat types, their complexities and the special adaptations of animals found in them.  Also, African Cats; their biological, socio-cultural and economic significance, and how their survival is being threatened.  Finally, during the Tracks and Signs module, the students were taught to recognise different animal tracks and learned some basic survival skills.

One of Antelope Park’s community volunteers, Michelle, donated a number of 3-D books about wildlife and pairs of glasses.  The children had never seen these before, so were very excited.  Not only were the books fun to look at, their content also complemented the conservation education curriculum.

We now look forward to welcoming a new group of students to the course next term.

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.


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