The Bina Hill Institute’s Youth Learning Centre is the only tertiary educational institution in Guyana’s hinterland.Started in 2002, the center was set up to be an incubator for future indigenous leaders who can return to and help develop their communities.Studies at the center focus on areas relevant to life in Guyana’s interior: agriculture, natural resource management, forestry, tourism, traditional crafts, and one of the local indigenous languages, Makushi.Despite challenges such as sparse funding and its remote location, the center has made a name for itself in Guyana’s conservation field and surrounding communities. ANNAI, Guyana — It’s 8:30 a.m. and the main school building of the Bina Hill Institute’s Youth Learning Centre is strangely quiet. The classrooms are deserted, the newly built dormitories are empty, and the football field lies still. But behind the kitchen block is a hubbub of noise: the roar of a motorbike, the hum of chattering voices, snatches of Latin music played on unseen cellphones. It’s the sound of an entire student body hard at work plucking, boiling and cleaning more than 100 white leghorn chickens. The Youth Learning Centre (YLC) is not your average school. Surrounded by the savanna, rainforest and mountains of Guyana’s North Rupununi district, it’s the only tertiary educational institution in the country’s hinterland. And although the two-year syllabus includes English and math, classes focus on areas relevant to life in Guyana’s interior, such as agriculture, natural resource management, forestry, tourism, traditional crafts and one of the local indigenous languages, Makushi. Pupils come here from indigenous communities across the Rupununi, and further afield. The center provides what it calls “a second chance” for those forced to drop out of high school because of financial or family pressures or who never made it beyond primary school due to a lack of secondary education in their community. As such, rather than focusing on grades, the admission requirements include enthusiasm, leadership potential and a recommendation from the prospective student’s village council. Murals on the Youth Learning Centre’s main educational building portray the subjects taught inside, from agriculture to IT. Image by Carinya Sharples for Mongabay. Radio host Mike Williams broadcasts in English and Makushi at Radio Paiwomak, a community radio station located on the same site as the Youth Learning Centre. Students are able to get practice behind the mic. Image by Carinya Sharples for Mongabay. “It offers something that not many places offer … it’s more of an experiential education,” Ivor Marslow of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), an umbrella governance body for the area’s communities, told Mongabay. The YLC is part of the wider Bina Hill Institute, a research, development and training body that in turn comes under the NRDDB. A board of trustees plays an important role in the center’s management, and over the years it has received support from many national and international organizations, including the German nonprofit Eerepami Regenwaldstiftung Guyana and the Guyana-based Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development.