I first met Lisa two years ago, at the Lupani Community School in Zambia. A shy, intelligent fifth grader, she was working hard to keep up with her studies. Now, in grade 7, Lisa has just won first prize in a district-level social studies competition and is traveling to the provincial capital to represent her district at the regional level.
Thanks to the AWF Conservation Schools program, more students in rural Africa will have access to a quality primary school education. But what happens once they graduate? Secondary schools can be located far from local villages and tuition can be out of reach for many poor, rural families.
Besides Lupani Primary School and Machenje Fishing Lodge, a number of other key AWF projects—in this area that includes Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—are bringing benefits to wildlife and people in the Kazungula landscape.
To hear Craig Sholley tell it, AWF never intended to build schools. Supporting capacity building and opportunities for conservation education, sure. But physically building a school?
In Africa, getting access to a good education isn’t so easy if you live in the bush. Meanwhile, these rural areas are where you find the rich habitats and wildlife.
Through the AWF Conservation Schools (ACS) program, AWF has leveraged education as a way to encourage conservation among rural communities: In exchange for target communities agreeing to take certain conservation actions, AWF is building, or rebuilding, primary schools.