Children are at high risk of dog bites and contracting rabies. Forty percent of reported rabies cases worldwide are children under the age of fifteen. In our project areas, the paediatric proportion is often even higher. Rabies most often persists in poor communities and rural regions of developing countries in Africa and Asia. If the risks are widely understood and appropriate dog bite treatment is well known – rabies is 100% preventable. The financial burden of human treatment is high, control via dog vaccination costs ten times less and protects whole communities. Mass canine vaccination will rid an area of rabies, but this takes time during which communities remain at risk – whilst we work to eliminate the disease, education helps us save lives.
The educational sessions are aimed to empower children, their teachers and their families with the knowledge to protect themselves from bites, preventing rabies and save lives. We encourage members of the public to bring their dogs for vaccination and sterilisation, and publicise our response team for humane canine rabies control.
We are creating communities who know how to protect themselves from rabies and who act to support rabies control.
In 2015, we began year-round awareness and education programmes in Goa and Jharkhand in India with permanent education officers. Alongside targeted work in schools, we also delivered outreach with local communities. We also launched a new programme in Blantyre in Malawi and recruited international volunteers to support mass awareness campaigns in Malawi and Goa.
To date our ‘Rabies Prevention’ education programme has reached:
Experienced educators deliver the ‘Rabies prevention’ lesson directly to children in their classes, and assemblies. We teach children from age five up to sixteen – focussing particularly on primary schools. Schools range from the small and hard to get to, with enrolments as low as ten children in Goa’s rural regions right up to huge urban centres of up to 10,000 children in some Blantyre schools. Our teams teach on average around 100-400 children in each hour long session, and aim to cover all children in the area working school-by-school.
The ‘Rabies prevention’ lesson teaches five key messages:
Our methods are simple, cost effective and replicable. We encourage communities to recognise & report rabid dogs, care for & protect dogs with vaccination, and help bite victims get treatment through active and thought-provoking sessions.
We use an array of teaching methods tailored for each respective country and campaign including drawing, acting, flashcards, video, props and demonstration to deliver the message of rabies prevention and ensure it is memorable. Each section of the session has plenary activities aimed to review what has been learnt and not only to make sure all children understand the message, but also that the children take the message home to their parents, family and friends.
The teachers pack include lesson plans, teachers notes, curricula links, power point presentations, worksheets, extension activities and FAQs.
The ‘Lyssa’ plays are enjoyed by all ages and can be performed in any setting. Told through a young central character and their friendship with a stray dog - the story is relatable to children, and stimulates responsibility. The play is performed by their class mates, peer-to-peer, so that the messages are memorable. Through storytelling, we engage children, their teachers and parents to take action for rabies eradication.
A moving image can say a thousand words! Our wonderful back-pack cinema is pedal-powered and portable allowing us to show local- language education cartoons and films in any environment, meaning infrastructure is no barrier to our life-saving lessons. Films are produced in multiple local languages, replicated for each project location.
We work with teachers for an ongoing source of rabies knowledge in the community. In each school we visit we deliver teaching materials for schools to educate their classes about rabies, year-on-year. Our wall posters remain in classrooms, providing a permanent reminder in schools of the key first aid advice that can protect children in a dog bite emergency. With the support of Goa State government we have produced a detailed textbook chapter available on the Goa Government Website ( http://www.education.goa.gov.in/Mission%20Rabies1.pdf ). We aim to extend state support and widen distribution of this material.
Please see our resources section for further materials for use in the classroom and community centres.
For every school we visit - we record who, when, where and what we did to teach children and communities entered via Rabies App to give real-time project management and mapped records of our reach. We complete community and schools studies to understand the barriers and behaviours that perpetuate human life loss to rabies, and measure how our interventions work to address these. A summary of our school's based knowledge, attitude and practice study assessing the quality of our methods and effect of our work in schools is available here. Our local team keep in touch with schools and communities to receive feedback, and give ongoing support.
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