Promoting literacy within rural schoolchildren and increasing awareness of the endangered Asian elephant.
Reading is not common practise amongst the local people of Laos. Illiteracy is high among rural communities, whilst resources remain scarce and when available are often uninspiring. Working in partnership with non-governmental organisation Community Learning International, The Elephant Conservation Center will promote literacy within schools in rural Sayaboury province in northern Laos.
The Elephant Caravan takes an innovative approach to encourage literacy within schoolchildren by distributing Lao language resources using the Caravan’s elephants.
Agile, elephants are able to access remote areas where roads and access routes are non-existent allowing the Caravan’s education team to reach those schools most in need, whilst interaction with the elephants increases knowledge of the endangered species and understanding of elephant behaviour amongst both young people and local communities, this being particularly beneficial in areas experiencing human-elephant conflict and habitat destruction.
Elephants become ambassadors of knowledge distributing resources generously provided by NGOs and designed for children. The Elephant Caravan will reach up to 8000 children from 45 villages meaning the Asian elephant is perceived in a positive light by many young minds.
An extended trunk presents each child with a storybook whilst an additional selection of books, packs of learning cards and a selection of posters are also presented to each school. Environmental awareness is also actively promoted through the implementation of activities based on a ‘fun and learn’ philosophy while visiting each school. These books are likely to be the first item the children have ever owned.
In Sayaboury, the heartland of the Lao elephant, elephants are a way of life, yet living on the brinks of extinction. The reaction from communities and the involvement of villagers during the Elephant Caravan will instil a sense of the nation’s pride for their Asian elephant and the importance of the species and its habitat to their culture.