The Gweru Drop-in Centre caters to the needs of the city’s street children, aiming to rehabilitate them into mainstream society and education, reunifying them with their families, and providing a meal every week day. Through ALERT, a Basic Life Skills course was introduced to help students develop ‘soft skills’ that will support them in their lives.
Recent lessons have focused on issues that directly affect vulnerable children sleeping and working on the streets. The risk of catching a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a fact of life for these youngsters, so learning how to treat - and preferably prevent - them is vital.
In small groups, each supported by trained community volunteers, the children were firstly taught about the different types of STDs, how they can be transmitted, and what effect they have on health. To help them recognise the symptoms of each disease in order to seek medical attention, the children were shown a series of images, which most found very unsettling. Understandably concerned by the risks, they agreed that prevention is better than cure and that practising safe sex is important. A practical demonstration of how to use a condom correctly to prevent the spread of disease was carried out at the end (pictured below).
The children’s attentiveness during the lesson, and their eagerness to ask questions, leads us to believe that introducing this topic has been worthwhile and will hopefully help to make these youngsters more aware of their actions in the future.
After tackling a serious subject, the following session provided a bit of light relief. The children had requested a lesson from volunteers about their different home countries. They learned about the UK, Norway and Sweden; where they are on the World map, the population of each country, the national flag, what the climate is like, and also what traditional foods are eaten there. In turn, the youngsters taught the volunteers more about Zimbabwe.
About the Basic Life Skills Course
The aim of the Basic Life Skills 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.
Join us at the AEC
There are a number of ways you can join our AEC projects to assist in the delivery of the AECs various programmes. Click on the following links for further information:
- Those with some teaching experience can join our Teaching in Africa internship
- Researchers interested in assisting us assess AEC programmes can join our Research in the Community Internship
- If your interest is in teaching about conservation, you can also join the programme as a Conservation Education Intern
- Even if you have no teaching experience, there is still much you can do to help deliver our various courses as part of our volunteer programmes
Support the AEC
If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.