How to be an Eco-School
April 9 2018

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.

In recent weeks, the conservation education syllabus has been looking at how human lifestyles impact the environment, and the steps which need to be taken in order to reduce negative effects on the ecosystem.  Building on this foundation, the students were challenged with formulating an action plan to transform their school into an environmentally friendly ‘eco-school’.  In small groups, they were asked to consider ways to improve the amount and variety of vegetation at the school, its sources of electricity and water, how to keep the environment clean, and how to deal with waste products.

To celebrate World Water Day on March 22nd, the theme ‘Nature for Water’ was introduced to the class, with students learning how important water conservation is for human survival and for the environment.  The lesson opened with an introduction to the Global Water Challenge (GWC), an NGO which partners with other global organizations to provide access to sustainable clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.  The students were shocked to learn that, according to the World Health Organization, more than 3.4 million people die every year as a result of water related diseases; making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world.  In four separate groups, they discussed one topic from the options provided - sources of water, the water cycle, water contamination, and the importance of water - before presenting their topic to the rest of the class for further discussion.

As a practical demonstration of how easily students can make a positive impact on their own environment, they were taken out on a litter pick the following week.  After learning more about the definition of the terms ‘litter’ and ‘recycling’, they were split into three groups and given 30 minutes to collect litter from around the school and its grounds.  

Back in the classroom, a sample of the collected litter was taken and categorised into either plastic, paper, glass, or metal.  Students then discussed how these different materials can be recycled and how this benefits the environment.  The lesson concluded with the class learning about the advantages and disadvantages of recycling, and also about those materials which cannot be recycled.

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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