Questions and Answers
August 9 2016

Growing up in the rural areas of Zambia and experiencing a rather strict regime at home, as well as at school, children are not necessarily curious to learn new things.  They are used to doing what they are told without asking any questions.  It is part of our Basic Life Skills course to help these children develop interests and to be able to ask questions to receive more information.

Children from Natebe and Maunga Kids Clubs have been practicing asking questions.  First they asked project volunteers and interns questions to find out about their names, where they come from, what they do, etc.  As the volunteers would also ask some questions back, it was nice to see and hear a lot of chatting and interaction.

Later the children sat in groups with one or two volunteers per group to look at recently donated non-fiction books.  Those who were able to read themselves would read a paragraph, and then volunteers helped them to understand the text.  The aim of this activity is for the children to experience that information can be found in books, but even if you do not fully understand, you can ask for help from parents, teachers, siblings, or even visitors.

The book about the human body was appreciated at both schools.  Students at Natebe School were mostly interested in where on the tongue we experience different tastes, such as sweet and bitter.  Benson of Maunga School worked with a volunteer who is a biology teacher back home and gained a lot of knowledge about bones, the heart, and blood.

Patrick at Natebe School looked at a book about human-built monuments, such as the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China.  The name of Machu Picchu made him and his friend Leonard laugh out loud several times, so they both wanted to know more about that monument.  They boys did not want to stop looking at the book when the classroom session stopped and we all went outside to play some games.

“One day, I want to visit Machu Picchu”, said Patrick when he said goodbye.  He definitely had developed some interest in the new topic and therefore our session had been successful.

What’s going to happen next?

In one of the next Kids Clubs, the children will again look at these books and practice asking questions. They will find information in the books and turn them into quiz questions for their friends, so they have a base to share what they have learned.  Eventually, they will make posters about one of the topics found in the books and put them up in their classroom, so all children can learn more and develop some interest; even when the books are not around. 

Volunteers also learn a lot from the children at Natebe School, like how to make toy giraffes out of dry grass!


About Kids Club

Kids Club is our opportunity to implement our Basic Life Skills Course.  The aim of the 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.

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