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

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid