Living with Forests
April 12 2017

Conservation Education classes at Mukumasaba School in March began to explore how forests provide essential habitats to support a wide variety of life.  Lessons focused on the effects of deforestation, and how this can be avoided.  The pupils at the school where amazed to learn how much Zambia has been losing its forest resources due to population growth and other factors. 

Prior to each lesson project staff, interns and volunteers meet to discuss the upcoming topic, create lesson plans, and prepare activities.  The lesson planning atmosphere allowed interns and volunteers to appreciate the differences and similarities of how different countries manage forest resources.

In delivering the first lesson of the module, students were split in five groups.  Each group was asked to pick one person to act as a tree, and the rest to be different animals of their choice.  This lesson aimed at teaching the students how the many animals depend on forests in order to survive.

Each ‘animal’ student was required to think about how it can benefit from the tree to survive.  After the ‘tree’ student had listed all the benefits discussed, the ‘trees’ were removed from the groups and the ‘animals’ asked to write a list of how this would affect them.

At the end of this group activity, Mulenga, a member of ALERT’s team, explained to the class how forests are disappearing, mainly because of human activities.  He went on to explain how we can change this by managing forest resources in a sustainable way.

The second and third lessons of the module focused on understanding the different ways humans interact with forests, and discussing the issues surrounding deforestation and management of natural resources.  

Pupils were asked to list any material or food they have used in the past week which had originated from a forest.  In small discussion groups, they looked at the percentage of land which is covered by forest in Zambia, and how this is changing over time. 

In the following week, with 46 students in attendance, the class continued to discuss the value of the forest to their way of living and to the area’s wildlife.

In concluding the topic, the last lesson talked about the importance of planting and managing trees in communities.  After the class had discussed the steps to be taken in order to help a tree grow, the students planted some trees at the school.

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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