News / Africa

Education is Key to Mali Reconstruction

UNHCR/Mali Refugees
UNHCR/Mali Refugees

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid