Participatory approach to community-based curriculum development for the Living With Elephants outreach program in Botswana
Hamel, Suzanne Katherine
Master of Education
SubjectHuman-elephant conflicts in Botswana
Endangered species (Africa, study and teaching)
Community-based natural resource management in Botswana
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There are increasing conflicts arising between humans and elephants throughout Africa and Asia. The Republic of Botswana, which has one of the world’s largest elephant populations, is no exception. One strategy for improving relations between humans and elephants may be participatory and community-based environmental education initiatives. Thus the goal of my project was to work with the non-governmental organization “Living With Elephants Foundation” (LWE) and local Batswanan communities to apply participatory research methods to the collaborative development of an elephant educational outreach program in Botswana. This study describes the process and the results of efforts to collaboratively develop, test and modify educational programming that aimed to contribute to a sustainable relationship between people and elephants. The study had three phases. Phase I involved reviewing academic and nongovernmental organization literature and determining needs of the elephants and people of Botswana through conducting key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Phase II began with an analysis of the initial emergent themes in the data collected in the previous phase in order to develop the goal and objectives and the first draft of the LWE Education Outreach Program. Phase II also involved an evaluation of this version of the program, and was based on student, teacher and community feedback, and the collection of drawings from Botswana students participating in the LWE outreach program. This phase created a space for further revisions, development of follow-up activities, and identification of further needs. Phase III occurred in Canada where I reviewed all the data collected, conducted further analysis as needed and wrote the thesis. This thesis was shared with LWE and a summary will be provided to all interested stakeholders.