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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More