Tag Archives: Education

Happy Readers Literacy Projects into Lowveld Schools

Hi folks,

I want to tell you about an exciting new project we are working on as part of our education and outreach project.

Happy Readers is a fantastic series of books that teach children to read in the English Language in Grades One and Two.  They are specifically designed for the child in Africa and use wild animals as characters, with settings, stories and words that will be familiar to rural and urban children. As they progress, they bring in conservation messages, and engage the children to think of animals as more than a food supply, but rather as friends and characters!


Developed in Zimbabwe and approved by the Ministry of Education, these books, which form a recognized and effective literacy scheme, have been adopted in over 400 schools in Zimbabwe.  Unfortunately, very few of those schools are in the lowveld and none are in the schools surrounding the Save Valley Conservancy and Gonarezhou National Park where we are implementing our environmental education and outreach projects.  These schools seem largely forgotton…

Hopefully however, and with your support, that could all change.  The developers of the scheme kindly donated us a set of books for one school and we have purchased books for one more.  Given that we are working in 118 primary schools, this may seem insignificant, but we have to start somewhere!

Here is Max Adams from the Happy Readers scheme handing over the books to a small rural school in Gonarezhou.


This is the Grade 1 class of the other school that was given the books


We have also been doing a few literacy tests in primary schools in order to get an idea of the reading ability of the rural children and I must admit it’s been a little depressing.

Doing the literacy tests…




The reading standard of the vast majority of kids is at least several years behind what they should be, and many kids, even in Grades 4 and 5 cannot read at all.  Can you imagine your life without being able to read??  We simply have to get this scheme running in the schools to give these children opportunities in life.

They are not stupid, and they are hard working, well behaved children, but they simply do not have the resources to learn to read.  Would you be prepared to make a donation to help us get these books into the schools?  The average cost of a full set of books for a Grade 1 class is US$800.  It’s less for smaller schools and more for bigger schools because the books must be at a ratio of no more than 4 children per book.

Please take just a minute to make a donation to help these children who have so little.  You can donate by clicking on the DONATE button on the right of this page, or by following this link and clicking donate.  Whatever you can afford will help.  Every single cent will be put into buying and distributing these books and no matter how much you give you will be giving children the biggest gift you can – the ability to read.

Please help us to give these children a chance in life – give them the gift of education.


Thank you,


Education and wild dogs


Helen here. I have been out visiting several primary schools which border onto the conservancy talking to teachers about the environmental education project. Although it is now the winter holidays, at each school I visited, several teachers met me to chat further. Many of the teachers had heard about the wild dogs and knew that they were endangered here in Zimbabwe. They were very keen to visit the conservancy themselves and see the wildlife here as well as hopefully see wild dogs, maybe at a den. It is great that the local schools and communities are so interested and enthusiastic in learning more about what goes on here.


Teachers from local primary school

Teachers from local primary school

Smiling school children

Smiling school children

The  school term starting in September is full of national exams so we shall hopefully start the programme properly next year with a teacher training workshop on environmental education here on Chishakwe. We are looking to initiate a long term programme of education and school visits which will benefit the people living close to the conservancy as well as wildlife such as the wild dog and rhino which live in Save Valley.


Conservation Education Programme

Hi everyone,

I thought it might be time to introduce myself. I’m Helen and I’m here with the Lowveld Wild Dog Project helping to establish a conservation education programme, in collaboration with Chishakwe Ranch and the Lowveld Rhino Trust.

Helen looking for tracks and signs at a water hole

Helen looking for tracks and signs at a water hole

We are mainly concentrating on educating people about the importance of maintaining biodiversity.  Chishakwe Ranch has been working in schools bordering the Save Valley Conservancy for several years now, and we will be parterning with them to expand their fantastic education efforts and to focus a bit on wild dogs, as there seems to be so many misconceptions about these beautiful creatures.

I have recently been to visit one of these schools with the Chishakwe managers, where I helped to judge a food-web poster project. The children were very excited and enthusiastic about leaning more about their surroundings and the natural world. The students who created the ten best posters will be coing to visit the conservancy in September for the day, and they will get to see wildlife up-close rather than just on paper.

One of the winners of the food-web poster project

One of the winners of the food-web poster project

At the moment there are many ideas for this education programme including a bush school and an education centre. During my time here I hope to help with the implementation of some of these ideas and establish a mutually beneficial relationship between local communities and the conservancy.