Mali is consistently ranked as one of the worst countries for a girl to receive an education.
Historically, access to education in Mali has been inequitable and girls from the poorest families are at the highest risk for school dropout. Barriers like early marriage, child labor, domestic work, violence, and gender discrimination often prevent girls from receiving the education opportunities they deserve.
When we started our formal education program in the early 1990’s, only a small percentage of girls were enrolled in elementary school. For the past three decades, we have partnered with villages to break generational bias and behaviors to improve girls’ access to education. Our local staff works with the education councils to engage local leaders and administration in changing harmful attitudes. Through leadership support and increased civic engagement, more village parents are understanding the importance of sending their girls to school and making it a priority.
For the 2020 – 2021 school year, over 45% of students enrolled in our elementary schools were girls.
We also provide Literacy Workshops for individuals ages 12 and older. The majority of our students are teenage girls, young mothers, and women who could not continue their education past the 6th grade. Learn more about our Literacy Workshop program.
Teninfing Samake is an 11th grader who attended our partner school in the village of Bamakoni. She passed the sixth grade exams, then moved to Sougoula to attend middle school, before returning back to Ouelessebougou to attend high school. Teninfing credits her elementary school education with providing her with a strong foundation, which enabled her to continue her secondary studies. She plans to graduate from high school and attend university, and she hopes to become a journalist one day.
“If I was not at school, I would be married already and with my husband’s family. Somewhere in my village or somewhere else. But because of the schooling I received from the Utah Alliance, my parents would like me to focus on my studies so that I can have success in my life. Education is everything.”
Safe Learning Environment
Education is a girl’s best chance for a brighter future. We not only work to address gender inequality and change cultural norms, but we also prioritize projects that create safe learning environments for girls and women. Projects have included constructing gender-separated latrines for privacy and safety, installing solar panels on classrooms so women can take evening literacy classes, and distributing sustainable feminine hygiene kits so girls do not have to miss school during their periods. We work to eliminate violence against girls by choosing school construction projects in villages that do not have a close school within a safe walking distance. All these efforts are steps in creating safe, respectful and inclusive learning environments.
Empower Girls through Education
Investing in girls and women matters now more than ever. By investing in their education, these future leaders will lay stronger foundations and transform their communities. Together we can give Malian girls the education they deserve.