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Chasing baboons or attending class: protected areas and childhood education in Uganda


The influence of protected areas on childhood education is often assumed to be positive, and integrated conservation and development programmes (ICDPs) typically support childhood education by building schools, providing scholarships and improving education quality, which in turn helps build conservation attitudes. In this paper, the impact of a protected area on childhood education is examined within the broader socioeconomic context of villages bordering Kibale National Park (Uganda). Survey data from households and primary schools indicated ICDPs improved primary school enrolment and education for girls. However, crop raiding by Park-protected animals reduced the probability of boys completing four years of primary education because they were preferentially held back from school to guard crops. Since population growth around protected areas is a threat to conservation, and since extending education for both boys and girls helps reduce birth rates and improve future employment opportunities, helping children attain primary school completion supports both conservation and development objectives. The findings highlight the need to continue supporting childhood education near protected areas; however, additional focus should be placed on boys’ educational attainment, and the need for wildlife authorities, governments and conservation organizations to invest in crop-raiding defences to mitigate crop-raiding losses.

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*Correspondence: Dr Catrina Mackenzie Tel: +1 514 464 6635 or +1 802 989 5751 e-mail:
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