Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa, is home to over 14 million people. It is the 12th poorest country in the world according to the United Nation’s Human Development Index. Mali also suffers from one of the globe’s lowest literacy rates at 38 percent, and only 17 percent for females.
The village of Zamperso is home to approximately 1,100 people. It was founded 512 years ago. Community members belong to the Fulani and Senoufo ethnic groups and practice Christianity, Islam and traditional religions. It is located about 25 kilometers from the nearest main road. Community members generate income through small trade, animal breeding, fishing and farming crops such as corn, millet, rice, peanuts and cotton.
At the time of construction, Zamperso had one government-supported primary school, with 87 students (44 girls and 43 boys). Three teachers taught three grade levels in one permanent and three temporary classrooms. A new school means that Zamperso can increase enrollment at the school, will be able to support more teachers and recruit more students from the surrounding villages.
IAPW contributes the engineering, materials, skilled labor, and project supervision. Each village provides the land, local materials such as sand, and the unskilled labor to build the school. Additionally, every village promises to send girls and boys to school in equal numbers.
The new school in Zamperso, Mali broke ground on November 19, 2014. The project was completed on January 12, 2015, after six weeks. Community members provided a combined 1,260 volunteer workdays and students began attending classes in their new school on January 23, 2015.