SPCA Education: changing hearts and minds
Monday, 5 September, 2016
We are excited to announce that after two years of research and development, the SPCA’s new education programme has launched.
Every year, SPCA Centres all over New Zealand care for around 60,000 animals who have been abandoned, injured, abused or neglected. Looking at these statistics, and the high levels of animal abuse in New Zealand, told us that we needed to invest in education to truly impact the way people are treating animals in our country.
In July, we launched a nationwide education programme in every Primary and Intermediate School in New Zealand. The programme uses animal welfare topics to teach children the subjects of the New Zealand Curriculum. It aims to foster understanding, compassion and respect towards animals, including responsible pet ownership, by teaching animal welfare in a real life, practical way.
So for example, children might learn mathematics by calculating the costs of owning a pet, or persuasive skills by delivering a speech on the importance of desexing animals.
Thanks to our generous SPCA supporters, we are able to give all 2,127 schools the resources completely free of charge. It’s our hope that every single child in New Zealand will learn with the resources and know how to respect, treat and care for animals. Ultimately, we want to shape animal ownership behaviours and break cycles of animal cruelty in our community.
We believe this Education programme is one of the most important steps we have taken to reduce animal abuse in the SPCA’s 127 year history.
A significant part of SPCA Education is about children developing empathy and compassion towards animals. “There is substantial research highlighting the co-occurrence between human and animal abuse. The SPCA Education programme aims to encourage empathy towards all animals and people, thereby creating positive behavioural change in the future generation,” SPCA Chief Scientific Officer Dr Arnja Dale says. “If there was only one thing the SPCA could do to create behavioural change in New Zealanders’ treatment of animals, we wholeheartedly believe this Education programme would be it.”
SPCA Education was launched after a very successful pilot programme in 22 Auckland Primary and Intermediate Schools. Results from the pilot study show a strong shift in the students’ knowledge and attitudes about animals and animal welfare.
“Feedback from the pilot programme was overwhelmingly positive from both teachers and students. In the first weeks after launching we had hundreds of schools registering for the Education programme, which means we are potentially reaching tens of thousands of children.” says SPCA Education Manager Nicole Peddie.
“We truly believe that by teaching children about how to care and respect for animals, we are ensuring a better New Zealand for all animals.”
Primary and Intermediate school teachers can register at www.teachers.spcaeducation.org.nz
Kids and parents can check out the student portal at www.kids.spcaeducation.org.nz