News / Africa

Education is Key to Mali Reconstruction

UNHCR/Mali Refugees
UNHCR/Mali Refugees

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Conflict, flooding and food insecurity have battered Mali over the past few years. Now, with a new president and prime minister in office, efforts are underway to help ensure peace and stability. That includes getting hundreds of thousands of Mali children back in school.


The new school year in Mali begins in October. The government and UNICEF – the U.N. Children’s Fund – have joined forces to launch a back to school campaign. The theme is Peace is Back and so is School.

UNICEF’s representative in Mali – Francoise Ackermans – said every effort needs to be made to make this school year much better than the last.

“You know, last year, many, many children – I’m talking about an estimation of 800,000 children – age school children – were affected by several crises: the crisis in the North with the jihadists, the nutritional crisis or floods. In the North, the ones that remained were displaced in other regions in the country. There were refugees in neighboring countries in Niger, Burkina Faso or Mauritania,” she said.

Access is still limited in parts of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. Many of the schools lack basic necessities, like student benches.

She said, “Almost all the benches in the North have been burned out. We are talking about providing notebooks and pencils to the kids, but also to the teachers. We are training 9,000 teachers on psycho-social support. Children have been totally traumatized. We are talking about new issues like mine risk education because we have unexploded mines in the northern Region.”

Ackermans praised the Ministry of Education for taking the lead in the back to school campaign.

“It’s a nationwide intervention and we have to mobilize the communities and send the right messages. So it’s about communication and mobilization at the community level,” she said.

The campaign also includes providing proper sanitation and health care for the children, and even proper birth registration.

In southern Mali, students will begin the school year October 1st. In northern Mali, students, whose education was disrupted by the conflict, are in an accelerated learning program. That wraps-up in mid-November, after which they’ll begin the new school year.

Ackermans said that UNICEF needs $12 million for education in Mali. So far, though, there are pledges and commitments for only $4 million.

“An educated child is becoming a citizen of his own country and of the world. This is one of the basic rights of every child. This is in the constitution in Mali – that every single child has the right to free education, to free quality education. We are far from there. We have to commit ourselves to work together on that.”

Besides education efforts for children within Mali, the program extends to others who fled the country. There are about 43,000 children in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

“Education is about bringing normalcy in life. We all know that. My message through you is also an excellent opportunity to remind us that war has a high cost. Now we have to invest in priority sectors and education is one of them,” she said.

Ackermans called education the “cornerstone” of Mali’s reconstruction. She asked, “What’s a more visible sign of things going back to normal than a girl and a boy walking to school in the morning?”

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid