The aim of the ALERT Education Centre (AEC) through its 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.
Lessons at the AEC began on February 20th, with students learning about the home countries of four of the community volunteers; Northern Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Holland. In four groups, each representing a different country, they found out about the political structure, religion, food, weather and climate, currency and economic structure of that particular country. In turn, the students taught the volunteers facts about Zimbabwe.
Each group was then tasked with preparing a presentation about their given country to deliver to the rest of the class. This task was executed extremely well, with students remembering what they had learned and sharing this information confidently.
The following lesson provided an introduction to the overall concept of conservation. The students were asked to give an explanation of what they believe conservation to be. Most had a basic idea, stating that it is the protection of animals. It was then explained that conservation is not just about protecting animals, but about protecting the environment as a whole.
Along with the importance of conservation and learning about food chains, the students were taught about the threats to wildlife, including habitat loss, human wildlife conflict, hunting, poaching, pollution and overutilisation. Having heard that it can take up to a million years for a glass bottle to decompose, the students were particularly shocked at the effect pollution can have on the environment. As conservation education is designed encourage participants to conserve and manage their own environment, this is a positive step towards these children becoming more aware of how their own actions can have a positive - or indeed negative - impact within their wider community.
Overall, this has been a positive start to the latest round of conservation education lessons, with students actively participating and showing a willingness to learn.
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.