“Before the school came, our village was in darkness. After the school came, we came into light.” -Sena Village Chief
In 1992, Ouelessebougou Alliance designated education as a primary focus of its mission. An Adult Literacy program was initiated and 300 villagers received instruction in Bambara – the first of its kind in Mali – for reading, writing and math. The villagers’ thirst for education led to more sustainable programs including school construction, teacher training and education councils. The lives of over 25,000 children and adults have been transformed through the Alliance’s education programs.
The Alliance partners with 12 villages and supports 12 elementary schools providing formal education for children who would not otherwise have that opportunity. Over 2,200 students were enrolled in the 2016-2017 school year. Since the inception of our education programs, girls’ school enrollment has increased substantially. In 2016-2017, 48% of students attending school were girls! The Alliance is committed to increasing the enrollment of girls and providing education opportunities for everyone.
Villagers have improved access to and quality of education.
Villages have effective and viable village education plans.
Villages have increased opportunities for adult literacy.
The Alliance knows that school facilities can have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes. In the rural region of Ouelessebougou, villagers face challenges of providing adequate instructional space for effective teaching to take place. The Alliance partners with 12 village schools to provide sufficient school facilities and materials to ensure a quality learning environment. Projects are based on the need of each school and have included providing latrines, hand-washing stations and solar panels.
Many of the Alliance’s schools are made of mud bricks. But mud-bricks deteriorate over time — particularly due to Mali’s harsh rainy season. Over the last decade, the Alliance has transitioned to building cement classrooms, which last much longer than mud-brick structures.
The Neneko villagers made a financial contribution to construct three new cement classrooms in the Summer 2017. At the Alliance’s annual Gala Auction in April, guests donated to fund the project. Because of their generous donations, construction started in May and classrooms were completed in August, just in time for school to start!
The Alliance works diligently with parents so they understand the importance of education in all their children’s’ lives. 24 parents from 12 villages attend a one-day training to learn about ways to become more involved with their children’s schools.
Parents are now determined to make sure teachers are paid monthly and on time, and that female enrollment continues to increase in the classrooms.
Following the model of the Alliance’s Health Council program, village chiefs form Education Councils — a group of respected leaders who are organized to improve the literacy of their village. The Alliance facilitates planning sessions and the Education Councils envision what a literate village would look like like and then determine goals, set priorities and create a work strategy to make their goals a reality. Goals have included increasing girls’ enrollment, providing adult literacy opportunities, constructing classrooms and forming parent committees. In the winter of 2018, the Education Council and Health Council leaders joined together for a training to discuss and share leadership strategies. This year, two villages will complete the Education Council training.
The Alliance knows that children learn best when teachers are trained and supported. When the Education Program started in 1992, one of the first initiatives was to train 28 teachers in their local language of Bambara. For over 25 years, the Alliance has continued to develop quality teachers.
Investing in our teachers ensures success and reduces turnover. We partner with Mali’s Ministry of Education to routinely evaluate and coach all teachers in our 12 village schools. $75 covers the cost for a trained professional to conduct quarterly evaluations and complete written reports on teacher performance. A successful teacher equals a successful student!
In 2011, the Alliance partnered with CAP- Centers of Educational Support (Centres d’Animation Pédagogique) from the Ministry of Education. CAP Supervisors are Malian education experts who evaluate teacher performance and then make recommendations for further training. The Alliance then offers training sessions based on the greatest need. We have offered French/Bamanankan training and Reading/Writing training.
Since the early 90’s, over 5,000 women and men have benefited from the Alliance’s adult literacy programs. But Mali continues to have low literacy rates, particularly in women. The Alliance knows that literacy is valuable component of empowerment to break the cycle of poverty.
The Alliance provides Literacy Workshops in each of its 12 village schools. In 2018, enrollment expanded to include youth ages 12 and older. Some students are unable to continue their education after 6th grade due to their villages’ proximity to a middle school, the need to help at home or support their families’ income. The Alliance schools are providing increase opportunities for literacy.
The Alliance provides teacher training, supplies and a stipend for each teacher. The villages take responsibility for the management of the classes and school facilities and the teachers instruct students on reading and writing in Bambara. Together we are working to eradicate illiteracy in Ouelessebougou.
This year the Alliance will hold a two-day teacher training and facilitate adult literacy classes in 12 village schools.
Ouelessebougou Alliance strives to make a difference in the lives of Malians not only through their education initiatives but through health programs as well.