REACH – Niamala, Mali
In a Perfect World is pleased to report on the Niamala school in Mali. Our partners broke ground on the school on April 11th, 2013 and the school was completed on July 15th, 2013 Students will begin attending classes in their new school in October 2013 when the new school year begins. The people of Niamala contributed a total of 2,131 volunteer workdays to the project, finishing ahead of schedule.
Mali is the 5th poorest country in the world according to the United Nations Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living. Mali has one of the globe’s lowest literacy rates at 31.1% and only 20.3% for females.
The village of Niamala is located in the municipality of Farako, 146 km from Bougouni. The current population of the village is 575 people, mostly from the Bambara and Fulani ethnic groups. Both Islam and traditional rituals are practiced in Niamala. The leaders of the village are the chief and his council, the mayor’s representative, the imam, the youth representative, the village secretary, women’s representative, the parent association head and the school committee head.
The primary income generating activities in Niamala are farming and livestock breeding. The staple crops are corn, millet, beans, peanuts, rice and cotton. The closest river is 9 km away and the nearest health clinic 4 km away. Villagers travel these distances by motorcycle, bicycle or on foot.
The IAPW-funded school in Niamala has 3 classrooms and 2 latrines built with cinderblocks, metal roofing and a poured concrete foundation. It replaces the school below:
Old School Conditions
There were no permanent school blocks in Niamala prior to this project- just a single mud room and a temporary shade shelter where 3 teachers taught grades 2 through 5. Some students walked to Goroko, 4 km away, to go to school. There are currently 63 verified students in Niamala- 31 girls and 32 boys. Formal education has been available in Niamala only since 2012.
Words from Niamala
“Many children have left school because of the distance between home and school. Many parents refused to send their children to school because of the conditions of the community school – very small and in a very bad state. With the community school, parents were in charge of paying the teachers. But with the new school, our school will become a public school and so we will have municipality trained teachers. It is also a relief for us parents for we have school near home and we’ll be able to follow kids attending school. This school will motivate parents to grant more importance to schooling as well as to children to come to school. The illiteracy rate will decrease and girls will be sent to school as well as boys. This project has really opened our eyes to the advantages of education. We are living in a very remote area and barely have access to information. That is why most of our daughters are not sent to school. Girls schooling is one of the expectations of the new school and we want to repect it in order to have another school block built soon. All the school age kids will have the right to school for now we understand that there is no growth without education. Another impact of this school is the courage it will bring to teachers to perfectly do their job. With the old school, some teachers do not come sometimtes because they found the conditions too ridiculous. At the beginning of the raining season classes stop because rains come through the classrooms. Kids barely finish the school year. I’m really thankful to our donors for improving the learning conditions in our community. God blesses you. Amen.”
– Dramane Sangare, village cotton farmers’ association secretary, father, 35 years old