Putting conservation education into practice
April 29 2016

At the beginning of April we decided to assess Livingstone’s conservation education class to evaluate the students' progress.  They were asked questions such as: state one way water is wasted and state how this could be reduced, what problem is linked to using lots of charcoal and what effect would this have on wildlife?, and briefly explain the advantages of having lions in Africa.  The test results were encouraging as all the pupils managed to pass the test.

Despite lower attendance during the school holidays, conservation education continues by engaging those children that remain in the area in more practical lessons based on previous topics covered in the term.

Solar Cooking

We decided to do an activity on solar energy as a follow up to the Conservation in Action module.  We wanted the students to understand that solar energy has the potential to be used for household cooking, as an alternative to charcoal; the production of which is a major cause of deforestation.  With some simple materials, the children made a basic solar cooker.

After constructing the oven, we had to test it by putting some savory biscuits with cheese and sweet biscuits with chocolate onto the stove.  We left it in the sun for 10 minutes, so these the cheese or chocolate was melting.  After enjoying the snacks, the lesson concluded with a class discussion on the advantages of solar power and how it can be used as an alternative source of energy. 

On the Wing

On April 27th, we decided to deliver a stand-alone lesson on birds.  The lesson aimed at highlighting not only the physical features of birds, but also on their environmental adaptations and how they benefit both humans and the ecosystems they live in.

In the first part of the lesson, pupils were given bird photo stimuli sheets, and they were required to spot similarities and differences. By using these, pupils were then asked to discuss the common features of birds and to identify what their individual functions are. 

As a class, we then had a discussion on how birds are beneficial to the ecosystem they live in, as well as to humans.  After considering the benefits, pupils were asked to think of threats that birds are facing and how these can be avoided.

In the second part of the lesson, we played a bird card game with the children.  The game involved placing 16 pairs of different bird cards on the table of which all the cards were facing down.  After shuffling the cards on the table, a pupil was asked to flip two cards.  If that child managed to get the correct pair of birds, they could only keep the cards if they answered a question after rolling the dice.  A pupil had to answer one question depending on what number they got after rolling the dice.  All the six questions on birds came from what the class had discussed during the first part of the lesson.

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.

Support the AEC

If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.

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