It's Good to Talk
October 14 2016

After a month’s break on holiday, students from Takunda Primary School in Gweru, central Zimbabwe, were excited to be back in school.  The happiest of all were the 60 grade six students who were now eligible to be part of the ALERT Conservation Education Programme.

The first group of 30 students started classes on the 12th of September.  To date, both groups have completed Module One, in which lessons covered conservation basics and socio- economic, cultural and ecological values of wildlife conservation.

A considerable amount of time was spent on threats to wildlife, as students showed particular interest in this topic and asked many questions relating to it.  Using the lion as a case study, students were taught in detail on how wildlife populations are declining, and what they could do to mitigate some of these challenges.

In another lesson, the children were tasked with coming up with solutions to wildlife poaching, and a solution to what could be done with the waste that societies produce on a daily basis (pollution).  Students gave well thought out answers, which indicated that they have begun to appreciate their role in environmental protection. Group discussions are becoming an effective way of learning for ALERT Education Centre (AEC) students, with debates now a staple in the conservation education classes. 

As a projector was donated during the school holiday, this was the first group to use it.  Students were thrilled to be able to watch a documentary titled, “Saving Africa’s Giants”.  The excitement was literally tangible, as students had never watched anything via a ‘big screen’ before.  After the film, a discussion session allowed students to speak about what they understood from the documentary and to ask any questions they had.

This has been a great start to the new term for conservation education, with students showing their enthusiasm for learning through completing assignments on time, being thoroughly attentive and participating well during lessons.

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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