Mali Rising offers education to the children of Mali

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CALLAHAN, Florida – Mali Rising Foundation, established in 2004, is an organization dedicated to educating middle school students in Mali. In 2022, Mali ranked third in the world for lowest-ranked education systems and adult literacy rates. Mali Rising Foundation is working to change that by providing quality education to the children of Mali.

The education crisis in Mali

In 2018, the average literacy rate in Mali for people aged 15 and over was 35%, making Mali one of the least literate countries in the world. In addition, the gross primary school enrollment rate is 75%, but this percentage drops to 41% for students enrolled in secondary school. It should be noted that more men are enrolled in school than women by a significant amount. In 2018, the number of out-of-school girls stood at over 711,000 compared to over 631,000 boys. These figures are only increasing, as the previous year, Mali had about 566,000 out-of-school girls and about 465,000 out-of-school boys.

Many factors contribute to the lack of education available in Mali, such as “household poverty, child labor, child marriage, insecurity and the lack of schools close to children’s homes”. The lack of qualified teachers also plays a role. Moreover, a poor quality education less encourages parents to send their children to school. In 2010, Mali estimated that 35% of Malian children who complete primary school would not meet the requirements for secondary education. Even then, private secondary education and vocational education can cost up to $500 per year, almost half the average annual salary in Mali, $1,260 per year in 2022.

Why Mali?

Mali Rising Foundation chose to focus on educating children in Mali because the country is home to a plethora of languages, ethnicities, and cultures. In 1960, Mali gained independence from France, but the country struggled a lot until the 1990s.

For a few decades, Mali presented itself as a stable country, registering economic and social progress, until 2012, when a coup in the north of the country led to widespread conflict. The government has since regained control, but terrorist attacks are still occurring across the country.

Improving education will kickstart the change that Mali needs, because more education will mean more development throughout the country, improving the workforce, the economy, the health system and government in general. “Mali faces an enormous challenge when it comes to training the teachers, farmers, doctors, politicians and other leaders needed to build a stable and prosperous future,” the organization states on its website. With conflict across the country, it is vital that young people receive an education in hopes of changing the future of their country.

Over the past few decades, education has improved for primary students, but most do not make it to secondary school, which is why Mali Rising Foundation focuses on secondary education. With each additional year of attending high school, a student’s income will increase by 10% to 20% in the future. With each additional year a student attends school, the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) will “increase by almost half a percent”, which strengthens the economy as a whole. In addition, a higher number of secondary school students will also contribute to Mali’s security. The research indicates that “for every 10[%] increase in a country’s college enrollment, war risk decreases by 3[%].”

Mali Rising Foundation Programs

  • School Access Program: The overall goal is to increase easy access to safe and sustainable schools for children while maintaining current Mali Rising Foundation schools. Mali Rising has already provided 23 schools within walking distance of remote children’s villages in the south. The organization continues to partner with villages to build new schools and continue established schools. Three of the organization’s schools even use solar panels to keep classrooms lit and functional during the evening. The organization is exploring new ways to integrate solar technology into schools to bring light to classrooms at a lower cost.
  • Ensure a quality education program: The overall objective of this program is to “strengthen [Mali Rising Foundation’s] educational efforts of schools to produce concrete results for the future of children in Mali. To ensure quality education, Mali Rising offers “annual teacher training and peer support, textbooks and other learning tools, health and hygiene training, and much more” , the organization said on its website. Another program was born out of this initiative: the Girls Project. This pilot program aims to enroll more girls in school, retain them in school and help them gain skills and knowledge to improve their lives. This project is important because 55% of girls attend primary school, but this number drops remarkably to 23% for secondary school girls.
  • The Inspiration Program: The general objective is to support students who dream of continuing their studies after the ninth year. Mali Rising focuses on middle schoolers, but the goal is for students to continue to broaden their education. The Inspiration Program is a form of programming to show students the value of education and it provides scholarships that help outstanding students continue their high school education or vocational training. The Youth Ambassadors Project engages American high school students to help Mali Rising students through “outreach, service, and fundraising.”

Look forward

Since the creation of Mali Rising Foundation, more than 13,000 children have had access to quality education, a number that will only increase as the organization works with more villages and children. Mali Rising Foundation plays a vital role in providing access to education, which not only benefits students but also communities as a whole.

–Dylan Olive
Photo: Flickr

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