Schoolgirls take a break and pose for a photo.
It's a simple formula, one that has been repackaged and redelivered countless times. Individuals from all backgrounds, classes, schools of thought and religious or political persuasions have emphasized the importance of education throughout history.
W.E.B. Du Bois called education the "development of power and ideal". Maria Montessori called early childhood education the "key to the betterment of society".Victor Hugo said that "he who opens a school door, closes a prison". Malcolm X recognized education as the "passport to the future" and also somewhat controversially uttered that "without education, you are not going anywhere in this world". Michelle Obama emphasized education as important to develop both the "ability to learn", but more importantly, "confidence".
While education has been almost universally recognized as important, the importance of female education is a more recent development. The United Nations Development Program ranks Mali number 176 out of 187 listed countries in its Education Index. While this may sound discouraging and lead some to believe that we're having minimal impact, the data demonstrates that each year the country has significantly improved.
This is largely due to the inclusion of girls in school, which crucially imparts the confidence referenced earlier to a new generation of rural Malian youth. The Alliance has roughly 50 percent female enrollment in its elementary schools, which is approximately 20 percent higher than the national average. Statistics such as these are particularly important in communitarian societies like Mali, where macro-level efforts gather far more momentum than individual ones. As the African proverb states, "if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
This is why the Alliance takes a collaborative approach, and has recently partnered with local schools in the Salt Lake area to ensure that more girls are educated in Mali. We've partnered with Brookwood Elementary, Highland High, Viewmont Elementary, Redeemer Lutheran School and are currently initiating a partnership with the Salt Lake Arts Academy. We have worked in partnership with local schools and villagers to educate nearly 1,000 girls this school year, and we truly believe that we can continue to go farther, together.