24.03.2014 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

The impact of Mali’s crisis on education

Vandalized documentation and computer centre of the Mahamane Alassane Haidara High school in Timbuktu ©UNESCO Bamako/Pierre Saye

Two crises have serious effected the education system in northern Mali in the past couple of years. In 2011, Mali suffered from severe food crisis. Especially the northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal were affected. The alimentation crisis grafted into a political security crisis in 2012 due to rebellious army groups in the north and coup d’état.

The result: Management of schools was destroyed and there has been an interruption of learning activities. In Gao, for example, the number of schools went down from 530 to 228, while the number of teachers describes from 2274 to 991 and the number of pupils from 106.611 to 67.538

A new report of UNESCO Bamako describes the damages to the educational system and to map out the needs for the region to improve the situation. The report conveys the result of a mission organized in northern Mali in October 2013 with representatives from UNESCO and Ministry of Education.

No return to normal

The main conclusions of the report are:

  • Nearly all school infra-structure was pillaged by armed groups and school furniture was destroyed.
  • All electronic equipment was destroyed or taken by the occupants. In addition, more than half of the books - especially those written in French - and all laboratory equipment for teachers and students were pillaged and/or burned.
  • There has not been any political mitigation plan for the educational recovery.

In addition, in all of the three regions a high percentage of teachers and pupils have not come back to school. The report also notes that the majority of the teachers and students, who have returned to the northern parts of the country, rather stay in the regional capitals than return to the rural areas.

Several suggestions are put forward to improving the situation in northern Mali, from literacy campaigns to multiplying the options for education for young boys and girls who have not been able to go to school. It also recognized the need for psychological support for teachers, students and parents who have been traumatized because of the crisis.


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