The Gweru Drop-in Centre caters to the needs of the city’s street children, aiming to rehabilitate them into mainstream society and education, reunifying them with their families, and providing a meal every week day. Through ALERT, a Basic Life Skills course was introduced to help students develop ‘soft skills’ that will support them in their lives.
In November, lessons focused on the topic “Looking After Myself”. The objective of this module was for students to understand what they need to do look after themselves and their health properly.
Oral hygiene was the first subject to be dealt with, with students being asked to consider the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day: to avoid decay, to help them speak and chew food, and to boost their self-confidence by having healthy looking teeth. They were shown images of both healthy and decayed teeth before being given their own toothbrush and toothpaste to keep. After lunch, several students were seen brushing their teeth straightaway.
The following lesson focused on general health; how to help prevent disease and how to be presentable and thereby socially acceptable. Students came up with the following suggestions which were each discussed in more detail:
- Bathing regularly
- Brushing your teeth
- Washing your hands
- Washing your clothes
- Keeping your living area clean
- Washing fruits and vegetables before eating to prevent contamination
The next part of the discussion focussed on reproductive health; different methods of family planning, the importance of family planning to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and the importance of using condoms to protect health. The students were knowledgeable on this topic, showing that they remembered what they had been taught previously and actively participated in the discussion by asking questions. Donations of soap and sanitary towels were handed out at the end of the session.
About the Basic Life Skills Course
The aim of the Basic Life Skills Course is to assist children and adolescents to gain essential skills needed to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way. Topics in the course include; self-esteem, coping with stress, effective communication, decision making, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution. The course has been developed by David Brackstone of John Taylor High School, UK using a programme in use at that school and adapted for use in our schools in Africa.
About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)
Basic Life Skills courses are 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
There are a number of ways you can join our AEC projects to assist in the delivery of the AECs various programmes. Click on the following links for further information:
- Those with some teaching experience can join our Teaching in Africa internship
- Researchers interested in assisting us assess AEC programmes can join our Research in the Community Internship
- If your interest is in teaching about conservation, you can also join the programme as a Conservation Education Intern
- Even if you have no teaching experience, there is still much you can do to help deliver our various courses as part of our volunteer programmes
Support the AEC
If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.