Over a year ago, I wrote about my favorite WAN project – the Humane Education Pilot Project, which was described in this blog: “Humane Education: The Building Block for a Kinder Future”. A strong supporter of Humane Education, I firmly believe that this is an essential intervention which works at the very roots of animal cruelty and neglect. Indeed, its impacts go far beyond this even - to include the awakening of empathy and compassion; an understanding of the needs of animals, other people and the environment; and ultimately the development of important values, a sense of responsibility and self-worth. All of these qualities contribute to the creation of better citizens and a more just and peaceful society. What could be more vital?
Yet most education systems around the world have developed into systems for exam cramming, which do little to equip learners for the full and complex lives they will have in the future; and often provide next to nothing to nurture and develop social, emotional and personal values.
Many animal protection organizations across the world share this belief in the value of Humane Education programs, and many include these in their work. However, the vast majority of these programs take place outside the formal schools’ curriculum (for example, at ‘after school’ clubs) or as ad hoc talks to students. This means that coverage is sparse and uneven. Very few countries have included Humane Education within their schools’ curriculum, although this is a real possibility, particularly in existing curriculum areas of relevance, such as “Life Skills”. It is also, undoubtedly, the best way of ensuring systematic and widespread Humane Education programs.
Securing Humane Education within the schools’ curriculum requires effective advocacy – which means providing strong evidence on the need for Humane Education and its beneficial impacts. Despite this, very few animal protection organizations have professionally evaluated their Humane Education programs in order to demonstrate their effectiveness.
This is why WAN developed this pilot program: To provide professional and well-documented evidence of the value of Humane Education across a number of areas of importance to educators (and society more generally); and to provide the lessons and evaluation tools necessary for other organizations to replicate the project in their own countries.
We worked with educators, educational researchers and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) professionals to develop the resources, systems, and tools needed to carry out this pilot effectively and to prove the value of Humane Education. And now, our one-year pilot is finished, and the final evaluation is in!
We are pleased to share our results with you. Not only did the pilot result in “statistically significant gains in students' humane attitudes”, with 88% of students saying that participating in the activities changed their attitudes toward animals, but a remarkable 90% said that their attitudes toward the environment were affected, and 86% said that the activities changed their attitudes toward people. These results were supported by mean gains in the Compassion/Happiness Index, a 60-item inventory of students' humane attitudes. Also, teachers reported that participating in the WAN program resulted in improved student behavior and social skills, enhanced compassion for animals, and promoted respect for nature and the environment.
There are many more positives in the full final evaluation, which is now available on our website.
The portal to this work is here.
The resources available from here include:
M & E Documents:
Educator Lesson Feedback (Excel Spreadsheet)
Monthly HE Interview Form (PDF)
Student Questionnaire (PDF)
Teacher Assessment (Excel Spreadsheet)
Post Teacher Feedback (PDF)
Reflections Questions (PDF)
WAN Evaluation Plan (an overview of the M&E system) (PDF)
We are happy to share these resources, in the hope that other animal protection organizations will be able to use them in their programs, and advocacy for the inclusion of Humane Education in schools’ curriculums.
WAN would be pleased to advise and assist where we can.
For our own part, we will be using the results in international advocacy in favor of Humane Education and supporting the national advocacy of our pilot project partners.
Finally, we would like to say a big “thank you” to our Humane Education pilot project partners – who have been, without exception, dedicated and professional throughout:
- RSPCA International for supporting and funding the project.
- The Lilongwe SPCA (LSPCA), Malawi, 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 Malawian district education authorities covering Lilongwe Urban and Dedza Rural for their enthusiastic support for the project.
See also here for general background on Humane Education and more available resources.