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.
ALERT's community projects team discuss the aims of the lesson with project volunteers
For pupils to understand the importance of conservation, they must first understand the need to protect species that are at risk of extinction. In July, lessons focused on the definitions and indicators used to identify species that are at risk of extinction, along with their conservation statuses.
At the start of the first lesson, students were asked to write down their personal opinion about who they think is responsible for protecting Africa’s wildlife. They were told to do this privately, so that their responses would not be influenced by their peers. The answers were then collected up and kept to one side to look at in a future lesson to see if they still held the same opinion having learned more about conservation issues.
Following a short discussion about the meaning of the term ‘endangered,’ students were put into pairs to match other key words to their correct definition: least concerned, near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild, and extinct.
With an understanding of the different classification categories, attention was then drawn to the status of the black and white rhino species in Africa. In their pairs, students looked at the population trends for both species, before categorising each rhino’s status. This was done using the graph below to identify patterns and discuss possible explanations.
After sharing their findings with the rest of the class, the lesson ended with a group discussion about the main threats to wildlife and whether they were classed as being naturally occurring, such as disease and inbreeding, or human-induced, such as hunting or poaching and habitat destruction.
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.