March 28, 2016
Teacher training enhances conservation education efforts
A grant from the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda has enabled the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to expand its conservation education efforts, by adding a teacher training program, starting in 2015. A teacher training workshop brought together 30 teachers from 15 schools located near the national park where the gorillas live, for presentations on biodiversity, conservation issues and activities, and mountain gorilla ecology, behavior and conservation. The teachers were also introduced to the curricula already in use by Fossey Fund staff for conservation courses provided to grades three and five.
The Fossey Fund’s conservation education programs are aimed at raising awareness and knowledge about the conservation of mountain gorillas and their habitat, among communities living in the vicinity of the Volcanoes National Park. These activities are designed to reach different layers of the community, such as primary school children, secondary school students, community leaders and even suspected poachers. The overall goal of our conservation education activities is to build awareness and capacity in communities and institutions that play a primary role in the conservation of mountain gorillas.
Teachers visit the park
In addition to the teacher training workshops, we also organized field visits to the national park for all the teachers. The teachers climbed Mount Bisoke, one of the volcanoes found within the park, which was an opportunity for them to see directly for themselves what the habitat looks like and observe the different vegetation zones. The teachers also had an opportunity to learn about the different plant species eaten by park animals, especially by gorillas, and to see measures taken by park authorities to reduce crop raiding by forest animals and other human-wildlife conflicts, including construction of a stone wall and a trench around the park.
In addition to these activities, each participating school was provided with materials to aid teachers when they are discussing biodiversity and conservation with their students. These include such things as wild animal pictures and environmental conservation games. Schools were also given copies of the syllabi used during conservation education by the Fossey Fund.
Plans are made for continuation of these activities in 2016, including additional evaluations of the effectiveness and impact of the program. Based on funding, if we are able to continue with 15 schools participating, this would increase the number of students participating in our conservation education programs to some 15,000.
We are grateful to the United States Embassy in Rwanda for providing funding to carry out these teacher training activities. We thank RDB (the Rwanda Development Board) for their assistance in organizing the teacher training workshop. We also appreciate the collaboration of headmasters and teachers from all the schools that made the implementation of the different activities possible.