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.
As this is the final school term of the year, the last group of students from Takunda Primary School in Gweru, Zimbabwe, are currently receiving lessons in conservation education. These classes are so popular within the school, that students eagerly await their turn to take part.
The first few weeks of the term saw students working through modules one to four, focusing on conservation, pollution, sustainability and recycling.
In module two, the subject of poaching was covered more extensively. Assignments and presentations were carried out covering the following topics:
- The reasons why poachers kill animals
- Different methods of poaching
- The most commonly poached animals in Africa
- How to overcome the problem of poaching in Zimbabwean societies
Initially, students showed minimal knowledge of this subject, and were therefore asked to take the assignment home to seek assistance from parents and guardians. This step was taken in the hope of also educating parents themselves about the consequences poaching has on wildlife and the environment. The assignment proved successful, as the information was well-researched and recorded in the students’ homework books, and confidently presented to the rest of the class during the next lesson.
To consolidate what they had learnt about poaching in the classroom and at home, students then engaged in a practical activity, joining Antelope Park volunteers on a snare sweep during which four snares were discovered. Most students said they were glad to have been part of this exercise, as it helped them realise the dangers posed by snares; a positive sign that they are beginning to appreciate the need for conservation.
Next week, AEC students will help celebrate the Centre’s fourth anniversary by taking a challenge to start doing four things differently that will help to protect their natural environment.
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.