What They Think: Talking to the Students at AWF’s Conservation Schools

About the Author

Mayu was Director of Content and Messaging for African Wildlife Foundation, responsible for AWF's print and online content, collateral and overall organizational messaging. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has nearly 20 years' experience in communications,… More

Student at Manyara Ranch Conservancy Primary School, Classroom Africa 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.

The effect, as AWF is finding, is significant, for both communities and for conservation. Here are what some of the students at AWF’s existing conservation schools think about education, wildlife, and AWF:

Nine-year-old Hancy (pictured above), a grade 3 student at Manyara Ranch Conservancy Primary School in Tanzania, lists math, science, and computers as his favorite subjects in school. He is particularly happy about having access to the IT lab built by AWF. “It is a new subject to us, but I love it a lot,” he says. “As I am planning to become engineer, I can see my dream getting nurtured [by] getting exposure to computer class.”

“My son was poor in class when he first came to Lupani on transfer in grade 3. He is now in grade 5 and one of the best in his class and in school.” So says Mr. Mulongo, father of a grade 5 student at Lupani Conservation Primary School in Zambia.

In the Sekute Chiefdom, 80 percent of the population is illiterate. But after AWF rebuilt Lupani Conservation Primary School, ambitions are starting to run high: “I want to work hard so I can go to college when I grow up,” says Joyce, a grade 4 student. 

“I love wildlife animals; they provide income to the country,” says Happy, 13. “Above all, through wildlife, AWF has built us a new school.” That school is Manyara Ranch Conserancy Primary School, where Happy is a grade 6 student. She considers her school to be one of the best in Tanzania’s Monduli District, citing as proof the fact that the school has received an academic certificate for best performance on Grade 6 National Exams for each of the six years she has been a student here.

Paul is a grade 1 student at Manyara Ranch Conservation Primary School. He has a love of animals: “I love to watch elephants, giraffes, and zebras,” he says.

AWF will soon be making some upgrades to both Manyara Ranch and Lupani Schools. It is also in the midst of constructing a new school in Ilima, Democratic Republic of Congo. While the school is still months away from completion, we’re already looking forward to hearing from students there how they feel about their new school and about conservation. Stay tuned! 

Photo: John Salehe