Education plus conservation—more than a school of thought

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Classroom Africa

  • Conservation Schools
  • Lupani School Nasson Tembo
  • Lupani Nasson Tembo
  • Lupani School Perrin Banks
  • Manyara Ranch IT Lab Craig R. Sholley
  • Manyara Ranch IT Lab James Mithamo
  • Manyara Ranch IT Lab James Mithamo
  • Manyara Ranch IT Lab Craig R Sholley
  • Manyara Ranch Primary School  Craig R Sholley

Saving wildlife improves livelihoods for individuals.

In some of Africa’s most rural areas, wildlife and landscapes are threatened and opportunities for quality education are scarce. This is where AWF comes in. AWF’s Classroom Africa program provides primary schools in rural communities with a high-quality education, well-trained teachers, clean and sustainable schools, supplemental conservation education opportunities, and resources in exchange for a significant conservation commitment from the community. Community members become conservationists by helping to ensure wildlife has safe space to roam, participating in sustainable agriculture practices, and working with park rangers to inform them of poaching activities.

The majority of children in Classroom Africa schools have lived near wildlife their entire lives, but have never had the chance to experience the majesty of an elephant, zebra, or lion — often times these species are viewed as threats or pests because of the problems they pose for communities. In Classroom Africa schools, kids learn the valuable role wildlife could play in their future and will grow up with a newfound appreciation of the wildlife and wild lands around them. By providing children with a quality education we are empowering them with the opportunity to pursue successful livelihoods that are not reliant on the unsustainable use of the environment and preparing future generations to be stewards of Africa’s wildlife.

In turn, children learn how each individual environment plays its unique part in the global ecosystem while instilling the belief that it is imperative to protect wildlife and the environment for coming generations.

Our goal is foster the link between education and conservation, ensuring a stronger tomorrow for Africa’s children and wildlife.


Poverty and a lack of education hurts individuals, the land, and Africa’s wildlife.

When new generations reach adulthood in many rural areas, they are left to fend for themselves and forced to exploit the resources around them for their livelihood. This includes cutting down trees for charcoal or hunting and selling bush meat. Classroom Africa targets the primary school level because Africa’s population is the youngest in the world. By providing a sound education foundation, we are offering students opportunities to continue with school and job opportunities that may better help their lives, their communities, and their natural environment. Students will learn how elephants keep the ecosystem healthy by eating plants and dispersing seeds, how predators can keep destructive species under control, and how ecotourism generates important revenue. Instead of viewing Africa’s majestic wildlife as a nuisance or economic gain, students will learn how imperative it is to protect wildlife by fighting poaching, reducing habitat loss and minimizing human-wildlife conflict.


Conservation education ensures Africans and Africa’s wildlife have a future.

Here’s some of what we’ve done.

  • Rebuild the Lupani Community School for the people of Sekute Chiefdom in the Kazungula Heartland.

    AWF built a brand-new school as an incentive for the establishment of a 20,000-hectare Sekute Conservation Area and protection of two important migration corridors that pass through Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe into Zambia. The school was upgraded with six new classrooms, several offices and five houses for teachers. AWF’s ongoing partnership with Bushtracks provides students with field trips to different national parks, and AWF recently renewed a contract with Children in the Wilderness for continued support in conservation education.

  • Established the IT lab in Manyara Ranch Primary School in Maasai Steppe.

    The Manyara Ranch Primary School is located in a very remote part of Tanzania—and like many schools around here, it lacked computers. AWF partnered with Annenberg Foundation to build a new IT lab with 40 new Internet-accessible computers, larger classrooms, and new student and teacher dormitories. Many of the teachers did not know how to use a computer, so they were given an intensive two-week training session. AWF also helped incorporate conservation curriculum and continues to provide school supplies. The school is situated on the grounds of the Manyara Ranch, home to an important wildlife corridor from Lake Manyara to Tarangire National Park. The school was relocated to eliminate conflict and frequent disruptions from elephants, lions, and other large animals. AWF has begun discussions with Wild Nature Institute about giraffe-themed conservation education activities for students and teachers.

  • Make a commitment to education.

    AWF announced a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, at the September 2013 CGI Annual Meeting, 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.

  • Constructed Ilima Conservation Primary School in northwest DRC.

    In partnership with MASS Design Group, AWF helped re-build a sustainable school in a remote forest of DRC, home to the endangered bonobo. The re-design protected the building from the harsh rainforest climate and even included a rain catchment that allowed for rainwater collection to be used for agriculture. A teachers’ training guide was developed on environmental and conservation education, and the school serves five villages in a 23-kilometer radius. Over 95% of sixth-grade students passed their primary school exit exams, the highest rate yet since AWF began supporting the school.

  • Finishing construction of Adisge Primary School in Simien Mountain landscape in Ethiopia.

    Simien Mountains National Park is an ecologically significant landscape home to the endangered Ethiopian wolf, endemic Gelada baboon, and majestic Walia ibex. AWF currently co-manages Simien National Park, and the upgrade of nearby Adisge Primary School through AWF’s Classroom Africa program will provide significant and long-lasting benefits to the local community while advancing conservation objectives in the national park. AWF recently received a contribution from Nature’s Path EnviroKidz to support initial conservation efforts at the school.

  • Planning for construction of future Classroom Africa supported schools.

    AWF has finalized agreements for construction of the Kidepo Primary School and the Sarachom Primary School in the Kidepo Valley landscape of Uganda. The agreements have been approved for both sites by the District and respective community members. Additionally, the Classroom Africa team is working on a proposal development and identification of potential donors for the construction of Nora and Paraa Primary Schools in Murchison Falls, Uganda.


Thanks to the generous support of members and other donors, we’re able to continue building conservation schools, providing school supplies, and training teachers. Learn more about our projects that help Africans learn how conservation can help their livelihood and save wildlife simultaneously.

  • Lupani School Becky Walter
    Lupani Community School
    Education for conservation in Zambia

    Education remains one of the major challenges facing Africa.

    In the Sekute community of Zambia, students often had to walk miles a day to attend school. Classes were held...

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    All Projects

  • Manyara Ranch IT Lab Amy Rizzotto
    Manyara Ranch IT Lab
    Connecting local communities to the World Wide Web

    Information accessibility is low in rural communities.

    Though computers may be a part of everyday life for many students in Western countries, computers—and the...

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    All Projects

  • Manyara Ranch Primary School Craig R Sholley
    Manyara Ranch Primary School
    Rebuilding educational facilities in Tanzania

    The Maasai School was dangerously dilapidated.

    The school formerly located on 45,000-acre Manyara Ranch was dilapidated, having seen no physical maintenance or repair in...

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    All Projects

  • Ilima Conservation Primary School
    Ilima Conservation Primary School
    Going beyond the building to provide a holistic education in DRC

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

    When AWF arrived in Ilima, the local school was a ramshackle building that failed to serve the educational...

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    All Projects

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