CHILDREN LEARN TO PROTECT ANIMALS – AN INNOVATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROJECT RUN BY "FOUR PAWS" – PRACTICAL CASE
The introduction of the FOUR PAWS educational project "Children Learn to Protect Animals" to the Bulgarian school system was prompted by a disturbing trend of a considerable increase of violence among children, including cases of cruelty toward animals. As a response to the social request for proper reaction and relevant decisions, FOUR PAWS offers a flexible educational program that includes an interactive textbook for children "Close to Animals", a complete teachers’ methodology and a new university teachers' program. All textbooks and qualification trainings for teachers are provided by FOUR PAWS animal welfare charity free of charge. The approach offered is focusing on the specific welfare of and love for animals to address the general issue – teach children to be tolerant and show empathy towards both animals and humans, and thus prevent aggression.
The program is directed to pre-school and primary school children and teachers. It is promoted closely with Bulgarian educational institutions and local authorities.
Results: over 6000 kids included, 130 teachers trained; programme is well-accepted in all sorts of schools: of high and not so high reputation. It helps facilitate socialization and integration of children from marginalized minority groups.
The social acceptance shown proves the programme's potential and the need for expansion via new educational tools and measures.
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