The students of Mukamusaba School in Livingstone have begun a module as part of ALERT’s Conservation Education syllabus entitled “My Impact” in which the pupils are consider their own impact on the environment.
During a lesson on September 16th the students considered what natural resources they use directly, as well as those used in the production of food or goods they buy? The positive and negative impacts of their lifestyles on the environment was discussed, supported by our staff who asked critical questions that helped the students to think deeper about their impact. What was learned through the lesson was that almost everything we do has some impact on the environment, whether large or small, and that we are all capable of changing our behaviour to reduce some of those negative impacts. The students were asked to carefully observe their lifestyle during the following week.
When we met again on the 23rd of September the students all made their own Action Plan of how they could reduce their negative impacts, and even increase the positive effects of their lifestyle, on the environment. The children found out that very obvious and easy things, like switching off a light when leaving a room, can make a difference, but that sometimes it’s easy to forget about these easy things. They left the lesson motivated to put their plans into action during the coming week.
A further week on and the students attended Conservation Education to exchange their experiences in three groups. All of the groups agreed that it is not too hard to remember easy things like throwing waste into a bin, rather than allowing it to pollute the environment. Some of the children even tried to teach others around them, such as family and friends to do these simple things as well, and found that some of them are easily convinced but also that “Some people just don’t listen so we pick up the litter ourselves.” Of course these examples of self-initiative were praised and encouraged by the group leaders.
After thinking of their personal life the pupils were given a problem to solve. Problem Based Learning is the main method we use for our Conservation Education course. This time, after being given some brief information about what an EcoSchool is (A school with policies and procedures in place that means it works towards protecting and preserving the school’s, and wider environment) the students sat together in groups and all came up with ideas and plans of how to turn Mukamusaba into an EcoSchool. After 30 minutes all groups presented their plans in front of the class as well as answered some quite critical questions of their fellow classmates.
Thinking of things they can actively change as students, littering around the school was a main topic in all of the groups, but was handled in different ways. As one group thought about how to tell someone in a polite way to put their waste into the bin another group wanted to involve teachers and school staff by reporting the “litterers”. Obvious for every group was that the more people, students and staff members, and even community living around Mukamusaba school area, that are involved the bigger the positive impact on the environment is.
About ALERT’s Conservation Education Project
Our year-long 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.
Support the AEC
If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.