Education - SOS – Sumatran Orangutan Society
Two people watching a sumatran orangutan in a tree

Layton Thompson


Frontline education in Sumatra

Our partners the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) have a passion and flair for promoting the value of forests amongst Indonesian civil society.

Thanks to their education and outreach work, local communities now have a deeper understanding of the plight of orangutans and the vital ecological services that rainforests provide – helping to prevent future conservation challenges.

Sekolah Alam Leuser

Built in memory of our founder, Lucy Wisdom, this school, built in 2018, provides free secondary education to children living near Bukit Mas.

Sekolah Alam Leuser, or Leuser Nature School, has been built at Bukit Mas with the aim of incentivising local farmers to become guardians of the forest by providing free education for their children in exchange for their active involvement in forest restoration and protection efforts.

Built in the heart of a forest restoration site, the school helps children and their parents become guardians of the Leuser Ecosystem, the last habitat on earth which is home to wild orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos, and thousands of other beautiful and irreplaceable animals and plants.
The school offers free education to children from rural communities nearby. In exchange, their families get involved with the tree-planting at the restoration site. Since the school opened in August 2018, nearly 40 families have visited the site to bring seedlings, plant trees and witness the area’s transformation from an oil palm plantation with little wildlife to a steadily greener and more vibrant place. Several mothers of Leuser Nature School pupils have even set up their own women’s tree-planting group, working alongside their children to keep adding to the site’s biodiversity. With each academic year, the school grows – both in numbers of pupils and in impact. It is testament to the power of working with communities, and the power of education.

Read more about the school and find out how you can help keep it running here.

Inspiring the next generation of Indonesian conservationists

OIC have developed an environmental education curriculum that is taught in schools throughout north Sumatra, and the team teach conservation lessons and hold conservation camps, reaching more than 15,000 students throughout the region.


They run a scholarship programme for Indonesian university students to support study into orangutan ecology and forest conservation. To date, scholarships have been awarded to 23 students. Recipients have become key members of the conservation movement, going on to work in biodiversity and habitat protection across Indonesia.

They also offer a unique opportunity for students to embark on apprenticeships, preparing and inspiring the next generation of Indonesian conservationists to work towards a more sustainable future for their forests.

Equipping rural communities with tools for conservation

Making environmental protection relevant to the lives and livelihoods of the people who live next to orangutan habitat is a key foundation to the success of conservation initiatives.

Layton Thompson

Layton Thompson

Our partners work with farmers and plantation workers, providing specialist training in how to prevent and resolve human-orangutan conflict so that they can protect their crops without resorting to harming wildlife.  Over 400 farmers have been trained in best-practice techniques to discourage orangutans from crop raiding, including making and using bamboo noise cannons.

OIC have produced numerous resources to support this outreach work, including ‘Islamic Verses for Conservation’, a book which draws on references in the Koran regarding environmental protection, to make conservation directly relevant to the many Muslim communities with whom they work.

Global Advocacy

global-advocacyWe are shining a spotlight on Sumatra, building a global movement to support the protection of the island’s amazing biodiversity. Through public events, campaigns, and reports, we are raising awareness of the causes and consequences of the orangutan crisis, and the tireless work of the teams on the frontline.

We have also created a Schools Pack, with lesson plans and resources to support teaching about rainforests, orangutans and conservation for classes from age 5 – 11.

Download Schools Pack

An adult sumatran orangutan

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