About two thirds of Madagascar’s population is under the age of 20. Despite the demand for education, only 20% of Madagascar’s national budget is allotted for schools, most of it going towards salaries, leaving little to no funding for educational materials.
Since 2007, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium's Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) has worked to bring conservation education to Madagascar, beginning with the distribution of over 15,000 conservation-based activity books to primary school children throughout Madagascar.
In October 2010, the conservation education project continued when two education crates were sent to primary and secondary students near the southeastern village of Kianjavato. The crates were filled with environmental games, maps, puppets, books, binoculars, art supplies and posters meant to supplement lessons about topics such as the rainforest, biomes and the plant life cycle.
The MBP has not only been involved in education projects for primary school children, but also the professional development of Malagasy graduate students and a local field team. This training and employment of locals involves them directly in the process of conservation and encourages them to be advocates of their natural environment. The MBP has supported over 40 Malagasy graduate students and has enabled 18 Malagasy students and ten international students to complete their graduate or veterinary degrees. The MBP also supports over 50 fulltime Malagasy employees as field assistants, project supervisors, office employees, drivers and supporting field personnel.