Education and conservation – a win-win for African communities

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela.

Education is a challenging undertaking even under the best circumstances. It is especially problematic in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo which has gone through years of political upheaval and violence, where schools were raided by paramilitary groups to force students into being child soldiers. Today, schools in DRC (and other African nations)  lack funding and many youth do not have access to education. This is changing thanks to the African Wildlife Conservation Schools Initiative.

When AWF first arrived in Llima, located in a remote and tropical part of the forest in northwest DRC, the local school was a ramshackle building. In 2015, the new Llima Conservation Primary School opened -  AWF partnering with MASS Design Group and Ilima community members teamed up to build the new, sustainable building.   It is a school like no other in the middle of the enormous rainforest and a center of instruction and discipline that is making a clear difference.  Here in Llima, people see hope, a future and a reason for keeping their children in school until the right age to leave, which is novel.

Conservation schools inspire and provide communities with education opportunities and resources in exchange for the community’s participation in conservation. Setting aside land to protect wildlife or working with park rangers to stop poachers are examples of how communities are participating.

African Wildlife Foundation builds or helps rebuild schools, develops conservation education curricula, provides supplemental training to teachers and ensures the schools will last with the support from local businesses and missions. AWF does not own any schools, directly operate any schools, or have any teachers or principals directly employed by AWF. Their goal is to support the foundation for education and provide knowledge that will improve lives for people and wildlife simultaneously.  The goal is to build 15 new conservation primary schools over the next 10 years in African landscapes home to some of the world’s most important wildlife populations.

For more information on this and other schools, please visit:
http://www.awf.org/community/african-conservation-schools

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