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A new beginning in Mali

Rich in culture and steeped in history, Mali is one of the ten poorest countries in the world, where about half of the population live on less than $1.25 a day. Most of the population here is young – under 24 years old – and this large proportion of children and youth have limited access to high-quality education and the chance to reach their full potential so they can improve their lives.

Indeed, with an adult literacy rate of close to 40%, Mali is has one of the lowest education rates in the world. In 2011, about 64% of boys and 59% of girls completed primary school, and only about half of those students moved on to secondary studies.

For those who are in school, often at great sacrifice, the quality of teaching is poor and availability of resources is inadequate. Many teachers here don’t have formal training, while the average class has over 70 pupils and nearly 20% of pupils are taught in multi-grade classes.

Adding to these challenges, students have limited, if any, access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities at school, which increases their odds of getting sick, while teenage girls often feel so uncomfortable without proper, gender-separated latrines that many drop out.

A girl smiles from her class desk.

How you’re helping

With your support, we have programs underway in 98 villages across this West African country, aimed at giving 22,000 students access to a high-quality education that will serve them well for a lifetime.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Investing in kindergarten and primary education infrastructure, including new schools, classrooms, water points, and latrines, so that children have a safe and comfortable environment in which to learn
  • Mobilizing and training local people to form School Management Committees, PTAs, and student governments to ensure sustainable community management of local schools
  • Working with school and community leadership to initiate a wide range of school-based programs to improve the health and wellbeing of students, including school feeding programs, as well as the distribution of medication, micronutrients and hygiene kits
  • Developing community outreach initiatives, like town hall meetings and radio campaigns, to promote school enrolment, especially among girls.

Progress to date

Overseen by local engineers and carried out by community members, construction on vital education infrastructure is already underway. New schools and classrooms are beginning to take shape, much to the excitement of children, parents and teachers.

More than 140 primary schools and kindergartens have been equipped with the supplies and local volunteers needed to deliver nutritious daily meals to over 8,000 students, providing them with the energy and concentration to learn.

Students and teachers gather outside their school.

In addition, over 600 teachers and more than 200 members of School Management Committees have received training in subjects like gender equality and violence prevention, child protection, hygiene and nutrition promotion, as well as school and canteen management.

Finally, community awareness campaigns are being rolled out that are engaging parents and community members on the importance of early and primary education for all children.

We look forward to updating you on the progress of this exciting and transformative project in Mali as it continues to unfold, thanks to your ongoing support of our Education project!

Return to the Education project