Ilima Primary School

Going beyond the building to provide
a holistic education in DRC

Tags: Bonobo, DRC, Congo, West/Central Africa, Community Training, Conservation Schools, Land-Use Planning

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Descriptions & Plan

In a remote part of rural DRC, AWF is building a different kind of primary school.

When AWF arrived in Ilima, the local school was a ramshackle building that failed to serve the educational needs of its students. Located in a remote part of the forest in northwest DRC, Ilima’s community school rarely attracted the best teachers. Its isolated location and harsh tropical climate make the building of permanent infrastructure challenging.

A forest landscape offers a unique opportunity for education and wildlife conservation.

AWF, architectural partner, MASS Design Group, and Ilima community members are in the process of building the new, sustainable school building.

Ilima was chosen as a conservation school site for the community’s ongoing involvement with AWF on land-use planning and other conservation actions designed to protect habitat for the endangered bonobo.

Once complete, the school will foster learning opportunities around conservation, as well as a conservation curriculum, and the classrooms will offer views of the forest, reinforcing the link to the natural environment.

Going beyond the building.

Due to the rainforest climate, which is infamous for heavy rains and high heat, school walls will only go up to two thirds of the ceiling to allow for unrestricted airflow. The structure will also feature a large suspended roof that will provide extra shade from sun and shelter during rains. Rain catchments will allow for rainwater collection, which will be used in agriculture.

Led by MASS Design, school construction is being carried out by community members. The community is being trained and employed through the duration of the construction process. This transfer of knowledge will allow community members to maintain their school building, ensuring that the building does not fall into disrepair and leaving the community with newly learned, employable skills.

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