HUMANE EDUCATION AND ANIMAL WELFARE
There are various programs aimed at developing positive values in individuals and the society at large with respect to animals, environmental issues and social justice. Humane Education is an umbrella term used to describe these programs. It is the teaching of compassion and respect towards animals, the environment and people and understanding that these three are interrelated.
Humane Education is dependent on integration of four components which are; Knowledge – which brings about development of higher order cognitive (mental) functioning such as creativity, curiosity and critical thinking. Application of these higher order cognitive skills to pertinent knowledge enables the learners to develop internally consistent positive values. Promotion of such values in return encourages the learner to behave in a socially beneficial way.
Humane Education is not a standalone instead it requires the application of modern active teaching methods that engage the learner at a deeper cognitive level.
Animal welfare education, social justice/ human rights and environmental education are the three areas of Humane Education. Basically, Animal welfare means the ability of an animal to cope with its environment. To achieve this the Five Freedoms (Welfare Needs) have been instrumental in the contexts regarding human-animal relationship.
ANIMAL WELFARE CLUBS; THE APPROACH & STRATEGY
In an effort to promote positive attitudes and behavior towards animals, Africa Network for Animal Welfare, ANAW in partnership with SPANA started a collaborative initiative dubbed ‘Promoting Animal Welfare in Schools- The PAWS program’. Through support from the Ministry of Education in Kenya, Animal welfare clubs are established in schools with the help of passionate teachers who play the role of the clubs’ patrons. So far 40 Animal Welfare Clubs have been established in 40 schools with up to a maximum of 50 pupils in every club. Children in standard 4 to 7, aged between 9 and 11 years are legible members.
The recruitment process starts by identifying schools within the proximity of the existing ones. That is, those schools already hosting AWCs. ANAW team visits the school and sell the idea to the school head who upon welcoming the idea discusses with the teachers. Now, we encourage the headteacher to share with the teachers about the program other than appointing a teacher at random to ensure the teacher who becomes the club patron is passionate about animals and is willing to volunteer their time. The teacher then discusses with pupils and those interested are recruited as members of AWCs.
When the club is already set, we take passport photos of the club members and prepare membership cards for free. Among the many tasks, the patrons take the pupils through a well-structured course work for a period of one year after which the pupils graduate and are awarded with certificates of participation Pupils who graduate are encouraged to continue participating in the clubs’ activities. Every year a new group is recruited.
Children are always excited and eager to learn especially if the environment is conducive and friendly. Teachers (club patrons) in the 40 schools that are registered under the PAWS program have volunteered their time to offer children this course of training despite heavy work load of teaching several subjects coupled by an overwhelming number of children in a single class. The Humane Education Officer at ANAW is actively involved with the coordination of the clubs in the 40 schools. The schools’ visits are a pillar to ensuring that teachers feel motivated and supported. During the visits teaching and learning materials are distributed which include stationary and children activity books. The HEO also holds lessons with the children aimed at helping children develop critical thinking on animal welfare, environment and social justice as well as help children create positive attitudes and behavior.
ANIMAL WELFARE CLUBS BEAR FRUITS
School terms have been full of activities not only in the school calendar but also in the Animal welfare clubs. ANAW continues to visit schools and follow up with the progress of the clubs. Teachers are now incorporating humane education in their lesson plans. The pupils are receptive with notable changes on attitudes towards animals. It is such a great milestone in animal welfare to hear children articulate the five freedoms (welfare needs of animals) very clearly.
The inspiring stories we get from schools are a clear sign that a great kind generation is in the making!
Elijah, the Young Animal Ambassador and Hero
Elijah is a pupil from Kabete Vet Lab Primary school and a member of Animal Welfare Club. The school is one of the newest schools to be recruited into the ‘Promoting Animal Welfare in Schools PAWS’ program. Elijah is passionate about animals especially dogs. He once took in a homeless dog that kept coming to their home. One day, the dog went out of the compound as the gate had been left open. Elijah followed the dog with the intention of bringing it back but unfortunately the dog was hit by a speeding motorcycle. On reaching at the spot of the accident, Elijah was heart- broken to find the dog dying. Since then, he resorted to saving dogs whenever he had the opportunity.
One day, on his way from school he was just about to witness a similar sad scenario but this time the animal was lucky. A puppy had been trying to cross the road and a truck was on coming. Elijah quickly ran and picked the puppy. He carried her to school. She was very tiny and cold so Elijah took off his school sweater and wrapped the puppy. He also fed the puppy on what was supposed to be his lunch for the day. Later a teacher from the school was really moved by this kind act and offered to take the puppy home.
ANAW team later paid the school a visit in honor of Elijah’s bravely. The puppy who was on that day given the name Suzie, was vaccinated, dewormed, groomed and got a new leash. The team also donated some dog food for Suzie. “If you find a homeless animal such as a dog, do not kick it around. Take care of it or take it to an adult who can care for it.” This was Elijah’s advice to his fellow children.
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