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Zimbabwe: Safaritalk, African Wildlife Conservation Trust & Happy Readers education programmes

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The Sponsorship : 5 schools Year 1 books and Teachers' Training workshop
Safaritalk, in conjunction with a couple of members has sponsored 5 schools around Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe to supply Happy Readers Year 1 books and organise teacher training workshops. This project is driven by the African Wildlife Conservation Fund and closely led by Rosemary Groom and her team. There are 39 schools around Gonarezhou and the African Wildlife Conservation Fund has found sponsorship for 12 of them so far to supply Level 1 books and organize Teachers' Training workshop: they still have to provide Level 2 books.
Rosemary Groom.
Happy Readers reading happily...
Rosemary Groom, in her recent interview for Safaritalk provides details of the education programmes they run in Zimbabwe to teach and benefit local community about wildlife.

The 1st training workshop - conducted by Happy Readers, (more on them in this article below), was conducted on 7th of May and was a huge success with over 50 people attending, including the District Administrator and three representatives from the District Education Office, (in Rosemary's words - all the necessary big wigs from the local councils and local government bodies). The work shop was conducted by Conor O' Bierne who along with his wife Emma runs the Happy Readers project. All the information was well received and there was palpable enthusiasm from the teachers. At the end of the workshop, the books were distributed to the schools present and Rosemary will be following up with the schools and providing us updates regularly. Here are a few pictures of the workshop:
The 5 schools that Safaritalk sponsored for the Year 1 books are :
  • Puzani Primary with 57 Grade 1 enrollments
  • Davata Primary with 36 Grade 1 enrollments
  • Samu Primary with 65 Grade 1 enrollments
  • Gwaivhi Primary with 70 Grade 1 enrollments
  • Maose Primary with 43 Grade 1 enrollments

All schools lie along the southern boundary of Gonarezhou National Park or further south in the Sengwe Corridor Area. Attached is the invoice receipt from African Wildlife Conservation Fund:

For anyone interested either individually, or through a group of like minded people or through Safaritalk to sponsor for further schools, please contact Rosemary at the following:

Dr Rosemary Groom


Field Projects Director, Zimbabwe

African Wildlife Conservation Fund


Cell: +263 (0)773 268219

Happy Readers:

Happy Readers is a specifically constructed reading scheme for young African children with English as a second language. Our books teach them to learn to read in English successfully and easily. We are approved by the Ministry of Education in Zimbabwe and Zambia for use in schools and are in line with curriculum requirements.

Literacy in many African countries stands at around 20%. Schools that are using the Happy Readers program are achieving around 89% literacy. A Happy Readers program has a start and finish point, measurable outcomes and can be tailored to fit budget requirements. Donors are able to implement the program directly or through Happy Readers project management.

Our series of books makes it fun for children to learn to read and for the teachers to teach! The books are set in Africa using African animals as the characters and the storylines are easy for children in Africa to relate to. We use familiar settings, both rural and urban to help with word recognition and thus make the learning easy. The pictures and stories are fun and adventurous, encouraging the children to WANT to read the story. The books are brightly colored, fully illustrated and printed on high quality gloss paper to make them durable. We use a condensed reading scheme covering the required learning as opposed to many schemes that require 20 plus books. Happy Readers comprises of a series of structured reading books per level/grade, complemented by Teachers and Classroom resources as well as a specifically designed Literacy Test. The books also include Parents and Teachers Notes in the vernacular languages for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Happy Readers are designed so that anyone who can already read, can use them to teach from. The program is structured in a simple manner making it easy for donor organizations, teachers and pupils to use, as well as monitor results and track improvements. A Happy Readers program contains all you need to learn or teach to read!

Happy Readers are particularly appropriate for different types of interventions as they can be used by qualified or unqualified teachers – responsible tourism, voluntourism, safari organisations as well as direct education projects.Happy Readers also promote messages of good behaviour, as well awareness of environmental issues, social welfare, conservation themes and community displacement within the story lines. Happy Readers programmes are designed to educate and uplift the community by enabling the children to read, and lays the groundwork for conservation education. Developing literacy in children gives a lifelong benefit and also helps the adult community to become more aware of issues as well as being proactive towards donors and conservation messages – a virtuous circle that encompasses the needs and aspirations of the community with the imperative of wildlife conservation.
What can Donors & Education partners do? Each partner will have different priorities, and will have to consider how the books could fit in with their objectives and activities.

However, some generic suggestions include:
  • Fund the acquisition of the books by schools that want them but cannot raise the funds.
  • Use them in catch-up programmes to develop basic reading skills in slightly older children.
  • Run and fund workshops on developing early childhood literacy, so that teachers and others can use the systems effectively in developing early childhood literacy.
  • Incorporate the books into existing intervention programmes as non-cash assistance which is directly relevant.
  • Consider specialized Early Childhood literacy programmes which leverage the current & future material.
A rough guide to book numbers/costs per school or child is as follows:
  • $50 per set of 9 books
  • $1000 – provides 20 sets of books for approx 60 children – a class in a school
  • $2,000 – provides 40 sets of books for approx 120 children
  • $5,000 – provides 200 sets for approx 600 children
For further information please contact Conor or Emma O’Beirne. Whilst we are based in Zimbabwe, we are able to get the books to surrounding countries in Africa.
Literacy, Conservation and Education

Happy Books
P O Box BW 773

00 263 772 386 163


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Thanks to Safaritalk and all our sponsors for helping us get Happy Readers into more schools! So many good people out there who care and who can make such an enormous difference on the ground. Having fallen in love with Wild Dogs via Lin Barrie's Celebration of Painted Wolves event, we offered to gift a school with our books - Rosemary Groom was quick to see the link between literacy and education and conservation - and she was keen! We funded one school and she scraped together funds for another 9! Since then we try and direct donors in her direction when there's a conservation ethos behind a donation! Now we have covered nearly 20 schools in her area in 2 years. More lodges in the area are beginning to see the benefits of an educated community - posters can be read, flyers can be handed out, conservation clubs can be started and sustained. And hopefully an educated community is less likely to need to poach for food or funds. We started Happy Readers on a wing and a prayer approach, and in over 3 years we're in over 600 schools, Conor has trained over a thousand teachers, and we are now working in Zambia and Malawi. We are self funded through organic growth - which means that everything (nearly) goes back into developing new books and new resources tailored for the schools of Africa: no electricity, no phone lines, too few teachers, too many children, not enough classrooms, not enough money................our program is specifically structured to help the teachers teach and monitor progress, whilst making it easy for the children to get on the reading ladder! We love it, love that it is working and kids are now reading where before they couldn't and love that we can teach conservation messages through our animal characters - wait till you read the new Ronnie Rhino story, but have a hankerchief handy!!

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Awesome Safaritalk, I could see the curiosity and intent on the chidrens' faces; and many smiles on the adults as well.


What a wonderful addition to Safaritalks' many endeavors to help Africa and its' amazing wildlife, curious children; also a very giving and hardworking iRosemary Groom who initiated the program with Happy Readers Zim.


Good Job Matt :)

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All credit must go to the members involved and Rosemary, as well as those responsible for the Happy Readers initiative...

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