At first glance, this project appears quite different from WAN’s usual work, but it was in fact developed to strengthen our advocacy and “Best Practice” resources. The idea behind the pilot was two-fold: Firstly to obtain evidence of the value of HE in order to advocate for the inclusion of HE in school curriculums and programmes; and secondly to influence alternative development models which measure societal success beyond economic output. These development models are currently under consideration by the United Nations (UN), and include Happiness/Well-Being (which is already introduced and measured in a number of policy arenas, including the OECD) and Harmony with Nature. Whilst we were delighted to see these promising new policy arenas being considered by the UN, we were concerned that they did not specifically mention animals and their welfare – so our follow-up advocacy will use the process of sharing our HE project and its results to stress the importance of including animals and their welfare within these.
To meet these objectives, we developed a new Teachers’ Guide, which includes lessons on relationships with animals, the environment and other people, and personal “flourishing”; together with appropriate pedagogy. The Teacher’s Guide is now being piloted and perfected with feedback from each lesson delivered.
We have worked with professional education institutes to develop tailored monitoring and evaluation systems and reports to ensure that the project is well implemented and that feedback/reporting is suitable for our purposes. We are covering aspects as diverse as: educational and class behaviour; well-being; social skills; and qualities such as harmony with nature, compassion, kindness and altruism/service.
The educational resources and results of this pilot project will be shared internationally, along with guidance on advocacy for the inclusion of HE in national curriculums.
This is very much a collaborative project, and we would like to say a big “Thank You!” to all the wonderful partners who have made this possible and, in particular:
- RSPCA International for supporting and funding the project.
- The Lilongwe SPCA (LSPCA) for managing the project locally and delivering the lessons so professionally.
- The Intercultural Center for Research in Education (INCRE) for their expert guidance on project monitoring and evaluation.
- The Centre for Education Training and Research at the University of Malawi (CERT) for providing professional support and advice, and local evaluation.
- Link Community Development (LINK) for providing technical advice and local monitoring.
- The district education authorities covering Lilongwe Urban and Dedza Rural for their enthusiastic support for the project.
It has truly been a wonderful experience to work alongside such dedicated, effective and delightful partners!
Photo credit: Children participating in the Humane Education curriculum in Malawi, World Animal Net.