Opening of the ALERT Education Centre
December 6 2012

On the 6th December government dignitaries, local school head masters and mistresses, Antelope Park volunteers and staff, the Mkoba 4 primary school choir, the ALERT team, and the Zimbabwean Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart, gathered in Gweru to mark the opening of the ALERT Education Centre (AEC). 

AEC

Mkoba 4 primary school’s choir singing the Zimbabwe national anthem opened the ceremony upon the lawn of the newly renovated centre.  Founder of ALERT Andrew Conolly gave thanks to all those involved in the making of the AEC before introducing Senator David Coltart.

AEC  AEC

Senator Coltart spoke passionately about the importance of conservation and the preservation of Zimbabwe’s wildlife for future generations before officially opening the centre.

Attendees were then invited to view the classroom and the magnificent artwork of Kelly Langdon. The room filled with gasps and smiles as all mingled around the African wildlife that now adorned the classroom walls.

AEC

AEC

AEC

Local teachers briefly looked over the conservation education curriculum to be taught before the choir joyfully closed the opening ceremony just in time before the rains began.  The downpour certainly didn’t dampen spirits and to many the lashing rain after a very long dry season represented a blessing over the AEC.

The first conservation classes will commence this following week as a part of a conservation education holiday club.  ALERT wishes to thank all those who helped create the AEC and all those who supported its opening with donations.  The AEC is providing a free curriculum to local children and the long term running of the centre still needs your support.  Please visit our supporters pages for details on you can assist this project.

The AEC is the first educational facility of its kind in the country, catering for local school children in and around Gweru city. Free lessons in conservation education, basic life skills and health and nutrition, which are not available anywhere else in the current education system, will be provided for children in Grades 6 and 7 (11-12 years old) along with clubs and workshops. There will be two classes each day, the children attending after-school lessons, or once a week as part of their usual learning in collaboration with their school’s headmaster and teacher. Holiday clubs will be held for children unable to access the AEC during term time and, in time, adults will also benefit through a planned programme of free classes designed to develop practical work skills.

The AEC year will consists of three terms, each concentrating on one of the following subject areas:

1. Conservation Education - Children learn the basics of conservation, biology, ecology and geography. The AEC conservation education classes see children learn a variety of topics using primarily the African lion as an example to help instill enthusiasm and excitement about country’s natural heritage;

2. Basic Life Skills - Children learn important aspects of life, touching upon social skills, employment, relationships, goals and dreams, etc. The AEC encourages children to contemplate their futures and socialise with one another in a constructive manner within a safe environment. A smaller classroom, converted into an art room, provides an outlet for each child’s creativity, and;

3. Health and Nutrition - Children learn the basics of healthy nutrition, life styles, disease (including STDs) and family planning. Each topic acknowledges local customs and culture, while at the same time promoting the importance of healthy and safe lifestyles and choices. 

The AEC aims to:

1. Offer around 150 free places to local school children each year to supplement their existing education;
2. Accept children from private schools and elsewhere in Zimbabwe for a small cost, funds being put back into the project; 
3. Keep class sizes to a minimum of 15 children to promote more effective learning;
4. Provide each child with their own textbook/resource pack each term, and;
5. In time, empower local adults by training them in practical work skills designed to help them seek employment.

 

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