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Children learn to protect animals

2013-02-19

Children Learn how to Protect Animals – An educational program of FOUR PAWS

The “Children Learn how to Protect Animals” program launched in the fall of 2005 in Romania as part of FOUR PAWS’ efforts as an international animal welfare organization to teach children to be responsible and humane towards animals. Thousands of children in the Romanian cities of Bucharest, Brașov, Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca and many other urban and rural regions have received education in humanity towards animals.

In Bulgaria the program runs successfully since Fall 2008 and today is an important part of FOUR PAWS’ work. In the very beginning many schools in Sofia took part in the initiative, as well as other big cities in the country – Vratsa, Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv. Over the course of time the program drew the attention of schools in smaller towns and villages – Dryanovo, Dupnitsa, Chelopech a.o. In the beginning of 2010 the number of children exceeded 1 000.

The program aims to change the attitude of children with the help of a special knowledge system, so that they learn to respect and understand the behavior of animals and their world, by protecting them and defending their rights. It is a known fact, that taking care of animals in one’s early years develops socially responsible citizens and members of a healthy society. Through interactive activities children are encouraged to express their opinions and offer solutions to problems of the animal kingdom.

The need of humane treatment of animals in schools
Children often witness inhumane treatment of animals in their homes or on the streets, in circuses or in zoos. Sadly, children see adults as role models, and this often leads to an incorrect perception of the animals’ part in the human world. They sometimes even take part in animal cruelty. This definitely shows that animal welfare should be part of the Bulgarian educational system.

The book “Close to animals”
“Close to animals” acts as a textbook and is intended specifically for primary school children (age 6-11), but it all depends on the teacher's approach and their presentation of the program and educational aspects. The book and the teacher's notes (guidelines for the proper and most effective use of the book) were written with the help of teachers and professionals in the field of animal welfare. It can be distributed in schools for free, if the school management expresses interest. The book is an interactive tool to teach children in humane treatment of animals through group activities, discussions, specific tasks and events. They can read about the various groups of animals, what their habitat and behavior are, how people affect them and how people can help animals if they are in trouble. This allows teachers to develop additional skills and become closer with the children, combining knowledge from different classes (Nature, biology, geography, etc..) and stressing on the fact that, growing up as responsible and reasonable people, children will be able to better communicate with both animals and each other.

Activities with children
The activities involved in the project include classes, that teach children more about their world and how to find solutions to pressing problems through discussions and exercises. In the textbook there are many ideas for activities and development of small projects in class.

Activities with teachers
In Romania the project is implemented in cooperation with the respective regional inspectorates of education in the form of an agreement between the two parties. FOUR PAWS allows teachers to develop additional teaching skills and qualifications, and to personally monitor the results of their work and that of the children. We encourage and support teachers in their efforts to create a sense of responsibility and commitment in children, to openly share their opinions about their role in the lives of animals. In Bulgaria, the cooperation with inspectorates is under construction and requires long-term efforts on both sides. The "Children learn how to protect animals" program has different durations (depending on the teacher's employment and school periods, but usually it is one school term, once a week). By the end of each training course FOUR PAWS organizes events / meetings where children can show their creations (drawings, applications, animations, sculptures, etc.) and earn a reward for a job well done during the term. Teachers and children will receive a certificate for the implementation of the project, as well as other prizes. The school also receives our special diploma for participation in our initiative.

The goal is for an even stronger cooperation with the Regional Inspectorates of Education and the Ministry of Education, so that the project can become a part of the core curriculum in primary schools.


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