Livingstone Kids Clubs take part in Afforestation
November 4 2015

Livingstone Kids Clubs take part in Afforestation

The Basic Life Skills Programme includes the module “Participator” in which the aim if for the children of Kids Club to become active contributors in their community and society and to develop the confidence to positively impact the world around them.

Zambia is ranked as having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world with rural households highly dependent on forest resources for food, materials and cash income.  Working with the children from these rural households gives us the chance to influence their thinking and use of forest resources; instead of teaching that “cutting down trees is a bad thing” we aim to build awareness of sustainable forest management amongst the children, and with them the members of present and future communities.  According to our teaching principles and methodologies it does not make sense to teach young children theoretical “what if…” scenarios.  Rather, active engagement in the issue is more likely to bring about positive learning results.

Our lessons at both Natebe and Maunga Kids Clubs started off with creating a poster in answer to the question: “Why are trees important?”  The children named many uses and purposes for trees including various human uses (e.g. wood for cooking), but also as providing habitat for animals and protecting soils from erosion.  The children were then encouraged to discuss their posters and were able to conclude that people and animals need living trees to survive, and simply cutting all the trees down to meet our current need does not meet our future needs.

The children then engaged in a two-phased game in small groups of 4-6 children.  Each child received four ‘tree cards’ to place on the table in front of them.  We explained that the table represents Zambia with its various forests, and that every child is responsible for their forest, represented by their four tree cards.  The children started rolling the dice and, depending on the roll, the players had to either “cut down” one or two trees of another player’s forest (e.g. for timber or to produce charcoal), or discovered that their own forest was habitat for a wild animal species.  In this case they were encouraged not to cut down any of their trees, allowing their trees to reproduce, earning the player a seed.  Knowing that not every single seed we plant will turn into a grown tree the children had, throughout the game, to collect two seeds to receive another tree card.  As the game continued and less trees were planted as were being cut down it soon turned out that all players were losing their trees.

Through the post-game discussion most of the groups quickly came up with a plan of how to save Zambia’s forests.  “We must plant more trees!” Margret at Natebe School said.  In phase two the children replayed the game but were asked to replace every tree cut down with two seeds; one for the person they “stole” the tree from, and one for their own forest.  Even though at first the forests were still getting smaller the system recovered after 2 or 3 rounds of playing, and the children found themselves with more tree cards than at the beginning of the game.  Without being asked to do this at all, we were very encouraged to see that all of the groups worked out for themselves not to completely erase any one forest. If a player remained with one tree after a round the other players would avoid “stealing” trees from this child.  Some groups even discussed that if there are no trees in a forest it’s impossible for this forest to recover since there won’t be seeds to drop.

After playing the game the children of Natebe school helped to identify the hundreds of different seeds they were asked to collect over the last two weeks.  There was also an opportunity for the children to create pictures and patterns with the different seeds before everyone went outside to plant at least two seeds into a reused container.

Kids Club 1

Kids Club 2

Kids Club 3

The seeds were brought to ALERT’s tree nursery at Dambwa Forest (funded by the Woodspring Trust) where staff members and volunteers will make sure that the seeds are watered regularly as they grow.

Kids Club 4

Experiencing in the model of the game what it means to lose all of our trees, and what is possible if we plant seeds to replace those that have been cut down hopefully makes the children remember today’s lesson’s aim.  We are sure that when some of the 120 seeds that have been planted by the 60 Kids Club and even Conservation Education programme participants this week have grown into small trees and are ready to be transplanted on the school grounds, the children will remember these lessons.

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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