SPANA’s education programme is key in stopping the suffering of working animals. Alex Saran, SPANA’s Humane Education Curriculum Advisor explains why we need to educate the next generation of animal owners today, in order to give working animals a brighter tomorrow…
Teaching compassion for animals has been an important part of our work since we started and each year more than 50,000 school children from across Africa and the Middle East learn, not only how to care for animals, but how to empathise with them. Often, the hard lives of working animals are not down to cruelty, but simply a lack of education.
We believe in not just improving these children’s knowledge around animal welfare, but also helping to change their attitudes and beliefs that animals are worthless and don’t have feelings. Only by changing these attitudes, can we have a long term positive impact on how working animals are cared for.
As well as being the animal owners of tomorrow, these children also have a great influence on how their families treat the donkeys, horses, and mules that they rely on so desperately for their income and livelihoods. They are often already responsible for feeding and looking after their family’s working animals and are keen to pass on what they’ve learnt.
So how do we do it? Well, we’ve created interactive exhibitions, engaging lessons and hands on sessions with friendly donkeys, horses, rabbits and guinea pigs at our SPANA centres, with lessons also taking place in local schools and on board our educational buses.
It’s an approach we know works, with recent evaluation of our programmes showing that they help children develop more humane attitudes to animals. Most recently, we’ve developed a new teaching qualification with the Humane Society of the United States for teachers educating school children about animal welfare.
This will help make sure children receive valuable and engaging lessons, while also boosting the status of animal welfare education among teachers and governments.
We want to create a world where all working animals are treated with kindness, respect and understanding. It might take generations, but by continuing to grow our education programme, we’re hopeful we’ll get there.
Watch this video to see our education work in action!
If you’d like to contribute to SPANA’s education programme, we desperately need donations of plastic toy animals to help us teach children in developing countries about the importance of animal welfare. If you have any that you can spare, please send them to: