Donkey welfare could soon be part of the school curriculum in Kenya thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary’s work to lobby the Kenyan authorities as part of a current review.
The charity’s team in Kenya is working with other welfare organisations to have donkey welfare and animal welfare more broadly included on the new national schools’ curriculum to come into force in classrooms across Kenya from 2016
The Sanctuary will play a major part in designing the new curriculum with education officer Josiah Ojwang part of the taskforce shaping the plans.
Duncan Ochieng’ Onduu, head of The Donkey Sanctuary’s Kenyan operations said it was an important opportunity to promote donkey welfare in Kenya, where there are two million donkeys and where donkeys are vital to households and the economy.
He said: “Donkeys are really important in the household and in communities in general. They are used to transport produce to market, to carry water for domestic use and for construction, and they are also used for ploughing and carrying crops. In some areas they even carry books and act as mobile libraries.
“Without them a lot of families wouldn’t be able to survive or would suffer great hardship. They really are that important.
“So far animal welfare has been covered very loosely in the social sciences in schools, but it needs to be much more. We would like to see animal welfare treated as a far more important topic because it helps children learn respect for animals and respect for each other.”
The Donkey Sanctuary already funds a successful outreach programme with 36 Kenyan schools. Since these have been running, the communities involved have reported improved donkey welfare and improved donkey productivity.
Stephen Blakeway, head of The Donkey Sanctuary’s international operations, said he welcomed the changes to the curriculum. He said: “The link between animal cruelty and human cruelty is now internationally recognised so to include animal welfare on the curriculum in Kenya is a really positive step towards improving compassion and citizenship, in a country where animals and especially donkeys are really important.”
The new curriculum will apply to both primary and secondary schools. It could feature wild, domestic and farm animals.
Work on the current taskforce is carried out by The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya which is fully funded by The Donkey Sanctuary, based in the UK.