Serengeti Teachers Education Program (STEP)
Goals: The short-term goal is to bring conservation education to communities around the Serengeti. The long-term goal: SPF will work with government education officials to incorporate this into secondary school curricula in the country.
The long-term goal is to have this conservation curriculum in every single public school in Tanzania.
- STEP provides conservation curriculum, classroom resources, and training to science teachers from primary through secondary school.
- Programs have been field tested and evaluated, and they have been introduced in Loliondo schools with success.
- The current program works with up to ten schools per launch, with a three-day training and field experience event, with follow-up of up to 5 days in schools for coaching and support.
- Fortunately, one of SPF’s key advisors was in a position to lead the revision of these new curricula, and was able to ensure as full inclusion of conservation education as possible into the new primary science curriculum.
- Because SPF’s primary advisor has existing MOEVT and TIE connections, this direct provision of materials to government is quite possible. However, it must be noted that government would then need to allocate funds to move these resources out into schools, which requires an understanding of the value of the materials and political will to make it happen. SPF is currently planning to pursue both avenues of STEP expansion.
Budget: The current cost for STEP implementation is approximately $2000 per school for participation in a three-day training seminar and field trip, funds for supplies in classrooms, and follow-up coaching and monitoring.
Evaluation: Number of schools with this program, both around the Serengeti and nationally. Conduct pre- and post-program tests to measure learning.
Background and Implementation
The Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT) has recently upgraded its national curriculum for all primary school education (Grades K-7). This includes major revision to the science education curriculum and training provided to teachers in the primary schools.
Fortunately, one of SPF’s key advisors was in a position to lead the revision of these new curricula, and was able to ensure as full inclusion of conservation education as possible into the new primary science curriculum.
Within the new curriculum, conservation education has been expanded from a mini-unit of study (2 weeks) into a full-blown unit of study encompassing approximately 6 weeks of instructional time. While the prior curriculum focused on providing basic information about the relationships between animals and their environment, and thus the need to provide spaces, food, and water for them to survive, the new curriculum focuses more intensively on the challenges facing Tanzania in its conservation efforts (population expansion, illegal wildlife trafficking, poaching, water, land, and air pollution, etc.).
While the prior curriculum did not include any content that could be seen as “negative commentary” on the current state of conservation in Tanzania, the current curriculum does deal with negative developments and threats directly, in an age-appropriate manner.
Finally, the new curriculum has at its core the national policy on wildlife and conservation, which states clearly the responsibilities of all stakeholders (from the government down to the individual) for conserving wildlife and wild spaces as a part of the nation’s cultural heritage. Because Tanzanian culture builds itself from and depends on community bonding around core social issues, this inclusion of the national policy is a critical leverage point to positively influence young learners as future empowered adult citizens with a community commitment to conservation.
Curriculum revision at the secondary school level has not been undertaken, and the presence of conservation education in the science curriculum is limited. However, there are additional support programs for conservation education at the secondary level, including the Mahali Hai conservation clubs, frequent field visits to national parks (less prevalent in primary school), and inclusion of field research in science studies, to use the national parks as a research site and source of information. Thus, secondary students are quite exposed to conservation concepts and issues.
SPF currently has developed and is using its STEP program in both primary and secondary schools. A key goal for STEP is to expand the model to include additional schools, primarily through a community saturation approach, and also to make STEP materials available to all schools.
There are two strategies that can potentially support provision of STEP resources to all schools:
- achieve external funding to support direct provision of materials and resources, packaged with a more expanded teacher’s guide to explain use in the classroom, and
- work to expand our contacts in the MOEVT and the Tanzanian Institute of Education (TIE) to provide these resources to support their growing teacher training and resource provision efforts.
Because SPF’s primary advisor has existing MOEVT and TIE connections, this direct provision of materials to government is quite possible. However, it must be noted that government would then need to allocate funds to move these resources out into schools, which requires an understanding of the value of the materials and political will to make it happen. SPF is currently planning to pursue both avenues of STEP expansion.
STEP provides Tanzanian Primary and Secondary Science teachers with an intensive training session focused on deepening understanding of environmental issues and environmental protection efforts in Tanzania. The program also gives both teachers and students from participating schools access to visit Tanzania National Parks to learn first-hand about the wildlife and their habitats. It will broaden their understanding when they are studying environmental curricula in their classrooms. Participating teachers engage a student leader in the training, and are provided with a six-week instructional curriculum and materials for follow-up classroom implementation.
The enriched curriculum we developed is an aligned enhancement to the national science curriculum. It provides more current and targeted information concerning threats to conservation, and is designed to motivate students and their communities to take an active role in protecting the wildlife and habitats. Students are also urged to start the clubs in the schools and continue learning about wildlife and environment; and to involve their parents as well. We merge this with our radio programming, in which trained teachers and students are invited to the to share their knowledge with their communities.
The program also asks students to do follow-up community programs, such as planting trees in their home surroundings doing community clean-up programs. Students serve as outreach to their families and communities.
The program was piloted in Arusha where students and teachers were selected from schools around Arusha National Park and took a field trip to the park. Their teachers then attended the two-day training workshop on how to implement the enriched curriculum.
Read a full report on the pilot program.
After the pilot, the program has been extended to a community around the Serengeti National Park. Teachers and students were selected from two secondary and three primary schools for a field trip in the Serengeti National Park, then teachers attended the workshop.
Go to http://friendsofserengeti.org/step/ for more information about this program.