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.
The topic of endangered species has been an interesting journey for conservation education students from Mukamusaba School in Livingstone. They have learned the definitions and indicators used to identify species at risk of extinction, and their conservation status, as well as addressing the main threats to biodiversity and how these threats can be overcome.
To close this topic, the final two sessions focussed on the students playing the role of wildlife authority officials to debate a variety of conservation strategies. This encouraged them to utilise what they had learned to devise their own conservation plans. Firstly, the merits of three different conservation projects were discussed, before the students were spilt into groups and each assigned one of the projects.
The first group was given a project to save the rhino, the second looked at planting trees along the boundaries of the park as a natural fence, and the last group addressed the introduction of a new bird species to the national park. The groups were asked to discuss why they thought that their project would be the most beneficial to the national park and to formulate a simple plan of how they would put their project into action. At the same time, they were asked to give consideration to some of the disadvantages of their particular project and how any challenges could be overcome. After 30 minutes, each group presented their project to the rest of the class, responding to comments and questions from the other students. At the end of the debate, everyone voted for the project they thought would be most beneficial, but were not permitted to choose their own.
The following week, the students were asked to design a simple plan for a conservation project for an organism of their choice. In their design they had to consider the following key questions:
- What is a suitable habitat for your organism?
- What threatens the organism and how can these be overcome?
- How will this plan affect other species in an ecosystem?
- How will this plan affect humans?
Students were encouraged to be creative in their planning and also to utilise some of the ideas they learned in previous lessons to develop and improve their project design.
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.