News / Africa

Conflict Keeps Northern Mali Children from School

Refugees from the Malian town of Gao, which is now under the control of Islamist forces, pose at a private accommodation in the capital Bamako,  September 8, 2012.
Refugees from the Malian town of Gao, which is now under the control of Islamist forces, pose at a private accommodation in the capital Bamako, September 8, 2012.
Peter Tinti
In Mali and throughout West Africa, the school year started a few weeks ago.  However, aid workers say the vast majority of children in the militant-controlled northern region are not able to go school -- which may help recruitment for local armed groups. 

The education ministry and international aid agencies say they are scrambling to meet the needs of children affected by the conflict. The region fell to al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants in April.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says at least 450,000 northerners have fled into neighboring countries or into the government-held south since the start of the year.  Those who remain in the north are living under the strict rule of the militants.

“Information is coming out in bits and pieces, but we still don’t have the full scope of understanding of what’s going on for education in the north," explained Tom Mccormack, the Sahel Regional Director for aid group Save the Children USA. "But we’re very concerned that education is not being provided as it should for all children.  In addition, we’re concerned that funds that need to be made available to assist children, particularly those who have been displaced by the fighting, have not been made available, especially for education in this emergency response that we and other actors on the ground here are trying to respond to.”

Save the Children says education is out of reach for the majority of school children in the occupied territory.

The group is part of the U.N.-created Education Cluster, which is coordinating the emergency response in Mali.

The Education Cluster surveyed 25 organizations in the north.  Three-quarters said local schools have been vandalized, looted or destroyed.  Half of the organizations reported that teachers had fled to the south, while one-third reported that the schools are occupied by armed groups.  

Save the Children says flooding has damaged an additional 290 schools across the country, affecting 60,000 children. However, funding for assistance remains low.

“Last year’s consolidated humanitarian appeals process was funded at four percent," said Joa Keis, information manager and co-leader for the Education Cluster. " I think that given the potential for this emergency to turn into a chronic long-term emergency, I think it’s very important that donors realize the importance that education is going to play in maintaining vital social functions and the livelihoods of children throughout this ongoing emergency.”

The Education Cluster previously estimated that only 20 percent of 300,000 students have fled northern Mali.  They said the remaining 240,000 kids have little to no access to education, leaving them at risk of recruitment into armed groups.

Human rights groups say armed Islamist groups in the north are actively recruiting children as young as 12 years old into their ranks.  

The United Nations estimates that at least 175 children were recruited into armed groups between April and June of this year, although many people consider those estimates to be conservative.

Keis says the lack of school increases the risk.

“It’s been shown that out-of-school children are particularly vulnerable to falling into the hands of armed groups given the situation in northern Mali.  With the presence of several armed groups controlling the area it is particularly important that we use education as a means of protecting children from this vulnerability and the potential for ongoing use of child soldiers in northern Mali," Keis said.

Islamist militants in control of the north have been implementing their own harsh brand of Sharia law.

Teachers and local organizations say they have been on their own in reaching tough compromises with armed groups to keep the remaining schools operating.

Certain subjects, such as philosophy and biology, are often not allowed. Girls and boys must often be separated. Certain schools are only allowed to teach in Arabic, a language most of the pupils do not speak.

However, both students and teachers say they are determined to continue their education.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukraine PM Warns Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid