School children in Thailand participate in the IN AWE Education programme.

Animals can experience pleasure, pain and suffering. When humans interact with animals we have a responsibility and often a legal duty to safeguard their welfare.

These messages are at the heart of WSPA’s educational aims – to develop compassion, a sense of justice and respect for animals and people. Education also reveals how animal welfare is crucial to people and the environment.

With an understanding of key animal welfare principles, people come to understand and appreciate the role that we can all play in improving the lives of the world’s animals.

Our aims are in line with the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), which runs until 2015.

Education for positive change: our programmes

Animal welfare education in action

Animal welfare education in action


WSPA’s worldwide animal welfare education team works on programmes designed for teachers, students and professionals, ultimately reaching many thousands of children and adults with a message of compassion.

Running in Central and South America, Africa and Asia, our educational programmes take three main forms:

1. First Concepts in Animal Welfare

This introductory-level education programme looks at animals, people and the environment. It includes:

  • providing training, support and materials for teachers working with 5–16 year olds in Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Thailand, India and Vietnam

  • integrating animal welfare education into school curricula, by working with governments, organising teacher training and providing materials 

  • developing educational resources and activities for other WSPA work areas, including materials for adults with lower literacy levels or who are being taught the basic needs of animals in their care.

Our training for teachers working with 5–16 year olds (previously known as International Animal Welfare Education) has been endorsed by the UNESCO regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean in both Chile and Peru, and by the International Association of Human–Animal Interaction Organisations (IAHAIO).

To find out more about our international animal welfare education work visit our website for educators or download our guide to teaching >>

2. Advanced Concepts in Animal Welfare

This area of our work is home to all educational activity on more complex animal welfare concepts and has two main programmes:

  • Tertiary animal welfare education. This programme targets university veterinary faculties and agriculture and livestock training institutes worldwide – vets can play a major role in improving animal welfare, and their actions influence others.

    The syllabus was developed with the University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Veterinary Science. It has been requested by over 850 universities worldwide. Access the modules online >>

  • Agricultural vocational training. We support training in Africa that integrates an animal welfare perspective.

We also advise colleagues across WSPA’s work areas on incorporating sound educational aspects to their programmes, for both professionals and wider audiences.

To find out more about any aspect of WSPA’s education work, contact:

UN DESD logo

UN DESD logo