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.
Having already covered the basic theory of ecosystems and the organisms within them, the first conservation education topic of 2018 began to explore how human lifestyle impacts the environment. Designed to encourage students to consider how they themselves use natural resources, the opening lesson concentrated on different types of resources and whether their use has a positive or negative impact on the environment.
After discussing the meaning of the terms ‘impact’, ‘environment’ and ‘resource’, students were given six categories to consider, each a different type of resource or product; food, wood, electricity, water, waste and ‘other’. For each category, they were asked where that particular resource/product comes from and how it impacts the environment. They were then tasked with classifying each impact as having a negative or positive effect.
At the end of the lesson, students were challenged to think about the six areas again once they were back at home, and to list any other resources they found themselves or their family using that hadn’t already been discussed. The aim of this exercise was to encourage them to consider the impact of their actions on their environment while they were actually in it.
The following lesson concentrated on identifying where change is needed the most, and how we as individuals can act upon that change to ensure conservation measures have the greatest chance of success. It began with looking at ways in which people can change their own actions to reduce negative effects on the environment. Building on previous week’s lesson, students were asked to present a report about any human activity that they had observed during the week which had an adverse impact on the environment.
Students were then divided into four groups. Each was assigned a category - water, electricity, wood or waste - and asked to write an action plan for how they would go about reducing the negative impacts that resource has on the environment. The students were encouraged to think of both simple and more complex ideas, enabling them to differentiate between solutions which could easily be implemented by individuals, and those which would require assistance from an institution such as a government. The lesson concluded with each group presenting their action plan to the rest of the class, during which the students challenged one another to putting some of the simple solutions into practice in their own environments.
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.