A cornerstone of the conservation "transformation" in the Congo Basin, the Kasugho University for Conservation and Rural Development, also known as the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology or TCCB, was built at the specific request of local communities who wished to establish an educational system to develop local conservation leadership. The University educates students in conservation science, management processes and communication.
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Truly a project of the entire community, the complex was hand-built by the villagers of Kasugho — the widow's association pressed and fired the bricks; local craftsmen built all the furniture, doors, and windows. The employees of the school have invested their earnings to match CI funding, adding a student-run AM radio station and a 28-bed health clinic with a laboratory and an operating theater.
Now, in addition to education, the local population has access to doctors, nurses, and the health center's services. Agricultural extension programs support local farmers, and children have access to primary and high school education. The radio station broadcasts messages to the local communities concerning conservation, politics, music, culture, and women's and family issues.
However, the University's true value for conservation rests with the students: they are the new generation of hereditary stewards of the land that lies within the Maiko-Tayna Kahuzi-Biega corridor. After three years of study, 207 students have received their diplomas in conservation biology over the past two years. The graduates have returned to their communities, qualified to work as field researchers, rangers, wardens, protected area managers, teachers, conservation journalists, and outreach workers. They now manage a conservation and development vision that is fully embedded in local history, culture, and hereditary rights.
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