Lion Scholarship Program
Very few children from villages inside Niassa National Reserve (NNR) are going to secondary school. Most children drop out of school at 9 – 11 years of age. In 2013 we initiated the Lion Scholarship Program to help get children into secondary school. The program is now reaching more than 10 villages and over 40 children. The Niassa Carnivore Project (NCP) manages the program through our Environmental Education program lead by Andrew Mkanage while sponsorship of the children is provided by both NCP and Chuilexi Conservancy.
The program has two main objectives:
- To promote education by providing an opportunity for children in remote villages which only have a primary school, to go to secondary school. This provides them with the opportunity to get a job rather than having to resort to earning a living through fishing and poaching.
- To provide a strong benefit to communities from wildlife conservation. This scholarship comes to children from the wildlife in NNR.
Each scholarship has a value of $700 per child per year. It includes school stationery and books, school fees, tutors, boarding house fees, school uniform, school shoes, school bag, casual shoes and clothes and food. It also provides pocket money, mentorship and a travelling allowance for holidays so that the children can return to their home village.
A very important part of this program is that it also directly involves the Lion scholars in NNR conservation through a mentorship program, and visits to the Mariri Environmental and Skills Training Centre, with game drives, and links to research and community conservation programs and our conservation staff, who are also their mentors.
The first recipients of the scholarship finished Grade 12 in 2017 and some exceptional teenagers are now on scholarship for further studies. We believe that this program will make a long-term difference for conservation in NNR as these children are able to support their families and have the skills, literacy and opportunities to seek a different future outside of NNR.