11 villages that the Alliance works with have active education councils. These councils work with the Alliance to make plans and coordinate efforts to improve the education in their villages. These councils focus largely on making sure girls are in school, building schools, and ensuring that teachers are receiving their salaries. With the Alliance's help, the village of Dialkoro Keleya just made a detailed 5 year plan for how to make these and other projects happen. We are excited about the level of ownership that these villagers are taking in these efforts! Thanks to generous donors and partners, the villagers in DK are building a nurse's station and three new classrooms! That impacts almost 150 students and will provide room for at least 50 more. Thanks you donors! We look forward to keeping you updated on the needs and successes in other villages.
In October, 2008, the Utah-based education committee traveled to the villages of Ouelessebougou to start a new initiative called the "Village Education Plan". Two villages were selected to pilot the project - Dialakoro Keleya and Bamakoni. Each village education council worked together to determine their personal aspirations for education in their village. I had the opportunity to watch the training in Dialakoro Keleya. With men and women participating as equals, we saw a beautiful vision come into existence. The villagers were taking control of their future, which is what we love to see.
Women in the villages feel empowered by these trainings. One villager stated, “When you teach to a woman, you teach to the family, and you make them ready for development.”
We want to thank our donors who have made these education programs possible. We couldn't do this without you! Thank you!!
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When I heard from our field staff that we need 50 new benches for our schools, I was discouraged, thinking that our benches were falling apart. When they told me that it is because we have up to 200 new students entering our classrooms in the fall, I was overjoyed! More students means more supplies, more teachers and more training needed. We're excited for this new challenge because we can see the profound impact it will have on these 200 students.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ouelessebougou and was fortunate to spend quite a bit of time visiting with the teachers and students in several elementary schools. As I visited with these remarkable people, I was reminded of the educational challenges they have faced and improvements they have made over the years. I was reminded of the low literacy rate that continues to impact the entire nation of Mali. Only 12% of women and 27% of men are able to read or write. This statistic was very troublesome to me, but as I looked around at the schools that have been constructed and the number of students attending them, I felt an extreme amount of hope.
During my visit to the village of Dialakoro Keleya, I was able to meet with a teacher by the name of Salif. He mentioned several educational improvements that have occurred since he attended school as a young boy many years ago. The two improvements that he emphasized the most were that 1) teaching is much more interactive now and corporal punishment is no longer the acceptable way to teach and 2) girls are now attending school—an opportunity their mothers never had!
Education is becoming a higher priority throughout Mali and the Alliance is thrilled to be a part of this progress! 64% of Malian children are now attending schools and many of them are girls! Historically Malian girls have not been allowed to attend school; however, parents are really beginning to see the importance of an education for their daughters. 500 girls are currently attending the Alliance’s 12 elementary schools! I believe that this generation of children will have many more opportunities in the future because of the education they are receiving. Your support of the Alliance’s education program will truly make a lasting impact for generations to come!
This past year, 534 girls enrolled in Alliance schools - more than ever before! Roughly one-third of all Alliance students are female - an indication of social change and a shift of village values toward gender equity in education. With your help, the Alliance hopes to continue to further educational opportunities for girls.
The quality of teacher training has also improved this past year. Training in 2006 focused on educating our native teachers on interactive learning skills, gender equity and best teaching practices. The Alliance also encourages teachers to initiate parent-teacher relationships to nurture improved quality of education and family support.
A 2006 education expedition focused on enhancing elementary level curriculums in mathematics, including hands-on learning and participation in the classrooms.
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