International working animal charity SPANA has launched a new education bus in Tunisia that will teach children about animal welfare and help them to develop compassion and respect towards animals.
The mobile exhibition bus is expected to reach more than 11,000 schoolchildren in Tunisia every year. It will tour the entire North African country, including visiting remote communities in mountainous and desert areas where ownership of working horses, donkeys, camels and other animals is very common.
The exhibition bus will offer children the chance to learn about animals and their needs through a series of interactive stations. They will also receive lessons and supervision from a full time SPANA education officer, who will accompany the bus on all its visits.
In addition to providing free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries worldwide, humane education is a key component of SPANA’s work. The charity’s education programme reaches more than 58,000 schoolchildren each year, including almost 18,000 children in Tunisia. The aim of the programme is to foster empathy and kindness for animals in order to promote positive attitudes and behaviours, and to bring about long term improvements in their welfare.
Working animals in Tunisia play a vital role in supporting the livelihoods of poorer families, who depend on them entirely. There are an estimated 380,200 working horses, donkeys and mules in the country, as well as 236,500 working camels. By doing the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis – and transporting key items such as food and water – these animals enable people in impoverished communities to earn a small income.
The official launch event for the bus was held at a primary school in Tunis in May 2017. Along with children and staff from the school, the event was attended by SPANA Chief Executive Geoffrey Dennis, along with the Director General of the Tunisian Education Ministry and the Regional Director of the Education Ministry.
“The new mobile exhibition bus will be an important part of our education programme, helping to transform the long term situation for working animals in Tunisia,” Dennis said.
“SPANA firmly believes that education is an essential part of improving animal welfare. By encouraging positive attitudes and practices from a young age, we can make significant improvements to the health and wellbeing of animals for generations to come.
“The bus will travel the length and breadth of the country, so it will have a substantial impact and will reach children in even the most isolated locations. Many families own working animals in these areas and a large proportion of the children we teach will become animal owners themselves. Education is therefore key to ensuring that working animals can enjoy a more compassionate future.”