Villagers face challenges of providing adequate instructional space and supplies for effective teaching to take place.
A quality learning environment can have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes. Our goal is for every student to have access to the resources they need for a successful education experience. We partner with village communities on school construction, school supplies, and other projects that improve education.
At the start of the 1990’s, Mali’s basic education system was failing. National public primary schools only accommodated 22% of the country’s children. In 1991, the Mali’s military dictatorship ended and the new Malian government, with substantial external assistance, embarked on a major education reform.
The demand for schooling outweighed the rate at which the government could invest in construction and place new teachers in classrooms. Community school construction had a long history in Mali, but official recognition of such schools had no precedent before the remarkable expansion of community-initiated education seen in the 1990’s. With international and local NGO support, this started a community school construction movement in Mali that lasted from 1993 to 2003.
We are among the first international NGO’s that constructed classrooms in the region of Ouelessebougou. Much like our drinking and garden well projects in the late 1980’s, our primary focus was establishing infrastructures that would empower villagers to achieve their goals for sustainable development. In addition to classroom construction, we partnered with village communities to train teachers, create education and literacy programs, and provide formal learning opportunities for men, women, and children.
For nearly three decades, we have partnered with villagers on over 70 classroom construction projects. Since most villages in Ouelessebougou now have access to nearby primary schools, we are now focused on a long-term partnership with 12 elementary schools located in our partner villages. These classrooms are also used to host our Literacy Workshop classes for youth and adults.
When we started construction projects in the 90’s, classrooms were made of mud bricks. Because of Mali’s harsh rainy season, these mud bricks deteriorate over time. In the past five years, we have partnered with our partner schools to construct over 20 new concrete classrooms to provide safe, quality learning facilities.
Out of our 12 partner elementary schools, 10 of them now have concrete classrooms. Our next project will be at the Djemene school. Djemene has one of the largest student enrollments and the school is led by a very active principal who has successfully engaged the teachers and parents in supporting their education program. This village community greatly values education and needs to replace the delipidated classrooms from the 1990’s. In 2021, we will be raising the funds to construct three cement classrooms.
School Supplies & Resources
Our Mali staff and lead teachers collaborate with the school’s administration and Education Council to assess the goals and needs of each of our 12 partner schools. Public schools receive very little government assistance so we work with them to achieve their education goals by providing resources that are either too expensive or unavailable. Projects vary every year and are based on the needs of each school. Past projects include latrines, bench desks, chalkboards, solar panels, school supplies, school gardens, and hand-washing stations. The supplies are not limited to the students. We invest in our teachers and make sure they have the quality resources they need. We also routinely provide feminine hygiene kits for girls, which allows them to stay in school.
Support Quality Learning
Villagers in Ouelessebougou do not have access to the quality schools or resources that most of us take for granted. An investment into our partner schools’ construction projects and learning resources goes a long way in improving education in rural Mali. Together we can enhance the learning experience for thousands of children.