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New preschools in Mali establish a strong foundation for children’s development

Start early: it is a simple concept that can yield big results, especially when applied to education. Early education is a crucial step in the growth and overall well-being for children aged 3-6.

During this early stage of development, challenging new information can stimulate young minds and spark curiosity, while participating in structured activities can help children build important social skills.

Unfortunately, not every child gets the early start they need in life. In Mali, more than 1/3 of school-aged children are not in school and less than 5% of children have access to pre-school.

Plan is working with communities to kick-start change and a cycle of progress on the ground, through early education. In fact, after a year of construction, we are pleased to announce the completion of two Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres in Barouéli, Mali!

Building the blueprints of change

The first facilities of their kind in Barouéli, the centres’ opening is an exciting milestone that represents a key step forward for the entire community.

Souleymane, the Director of the local elementary school, has already seen the positive effects of the centres on the preschoolers, and he isn’t the only one noticing: “Their curiosity has really developed,” he reports. “And parents now see the importance of early childhood development.”

The community’s ability to truly embrace and take ownership of the centres marks a pivotal shift towards understanding the value of early education.

“Before, early childhood care was not thought of, but now the community realizes that it’s important and everyone is getting involved,” said Amadou, a Community Facilitator of the project. He even identified this project as one of the most impactful undertakings for the community thus far, where both adults and children could enjoy the benefits.

“We teach the children how to sing, recite poems, tell short stories,” says Assétou, a local woman who received training and now works at the centre as an Education Mother. “It makes them so happy and it makes me so happy to be working with them.”

Paving the way for progress

Through training and collaboration, Plan encourages community involvement, to help ensure that every project is sustainable.

Members of the Barouéli community learned about everything from repairs and maintenance to teaching techniques and administrative tasks so that each could play a role in the success of the centres.

“The training we got was comprehensive,” says Drissa, President of one of the preschool Management Committees made up of local administrators, leaders, parents and teachers.

In the end, combining efforts towards the ECCD centres helped bring the entire community together, motivating them to continue moving forward as a collective.

“Every family contributed to the construction of the centres,” says Drissa. “During the holiday, I personally go to weed the garden and make sure that everything is right. With Plan we understand that only when everyone works together can we develop our village.”

  • Group of children entering an early childhood care and development centre

    Children excitedly enter one of the new ECCD centres.

  • Children in the ECCD’s activity room.

    Children happily gather in an ECCD activity room.

  • Construction phase of the ECCD.

    The construction phase of one of the ECCDs

  • Children under the temporary ECCD structure.

    Children maintained their learning and play activities in a temporary structure while the centres were being built.

  • Assétou and other Education Mothers.

    Assétou (at left) and other Education Mothers lead the children in fun, educational activities.

It starts with a community. And you.

This ECCD initiative in Barouéli, Mali, was made possible through the generosity of our Community Sponsors. The success of the project has revealed how nurturing young minds can help children reach their full potential, while also helping communities flourish.

Community Sponsorship is a meaningful way to help transform one community forever. Help us improve the lives of even more children and families across Mali.

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