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Easements for Education

Easements for Education

Easements for Education

When it comes to conservation, education can change hearts and, naturally, minds

Within the western part of the Sekute Community Conservation Area, Lupani Village is home to the only primary school in the area, Lupani Community School. In recognition of high levels of illiteracy in the area and the need to demonstrate further social benefits from conservation to the Sekute Community, AWF launched an ‘Easements for Education’ programme to help students and families who conserve land meet their educational needs.

The first component provides support to Lupani Community School. Lupani was once a one-room dilapidated schoolhouse, where enrolment was limited to only 50 students due to the size of the room. After the establishment of the Sekute Community Conservation Area, AWF rebuilt Lupani as an incentive for community members to protect the area from unsustainable use of natural resources. Lupani, which officially opened in February 2011, is now a modern facility equipped with six classrooms, several offices, and five on-site teacher’s houses. Solar panels provide electricity to all the houses and two classrooms, which will allow for adult literacy classes in the evening and the future establishment of a computer lab. The school boasts an involved and passionate parent–teacher association that is looking after the school and grounds and tracking the children’s progress.

Lupani Community School is now officially recognised under the Ministry of Education as a primary school and has been made into an exam centre, reducing the costs and time for students to travel to their applicable exam centres – which for some was up to 60 kilometres away. In the past two years, school enrolment has increased up to 140 students from grades 1–7, with a significant improvement in test results. According to head teacher Mrs Lwambi, the students love learning and are eager to come to school.  She adds that their performance keeps improving year after year.

‘My child was poor in class when he first came to Lupani on transfer in grade 3,’ acknowledges Mr Mulongo, father of a Lupani student. ‘He is now in grade 5 and one of the best in his class and in school.’

Ambition has also increased at Lupani: ‘I like my school,’ says Joyce, a pupil in grade 4. ‘I want to work hard so I can go to college when I grow up.’

AWF has additionally assisted the Sekute Community Development Trust, the community organization that oversees the sustainable management of the area’s natural resources, in setting up and administering an education trust fund, the second component to ‘Easements for Education.’ The fund guarantees school fees and expenses, allowing eligible children to continue their schooling. A designated committee within the Trust selects students based on proximity to the Sekute Conservation Area, previous performance, and financial need, and then makes recommendations for approval by the full board. The review also identifies needs of the most vulnerable students in order to provide assistance that can enable them to perform at an optimal level.

The Trust is committed to delivering high-impact, multi-year scholarships, ensuring long-term commitments to conservation while supporting students throughout their entire secondary education. During this past year, the fund sponsored 120 students – 61 girls and 59 boys – from Sekute. All but one student were in secondary school, and together with their guardians, all signed a conservation agreement committing to protect the area’s natural resources. During this time, one sponsored student graduated from tertiary school as a nurse while six others successfully completed high school.

Only a few years ago, this community had an illiteracy rate of 80%. Now, local children and adults have found new opportunities for education – and are taking new initiative in caring for their natural environment.

‘Conserving all natural resources is important so that when our great-grandchildren are born, they will get to see them and appreciate that we have helped in conserving them,’ notes Benjamin Masale, a grade 10 scholarship recipient.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 13, June 2013)

Read more from the Zambezi Traveller:
AWF Celebrates Opening of Community-Owned Conservation Lodge in Zambia (ZT News Update, Aug 2013)
Creating Community Value in Conservation (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)
Conservation-Driven Enterprise (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)
Easements for Education (ZT, Issue 13, June 2013)
Communities can win with wildlife (ZT, Issue 10, Sept 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
African Wildlife Foundation