"Still a long way to go to meet adult literacy targets" (Mali)

Donald Z. Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Thu Apr 17 14:23:46 UTC 2008


FYI, this item from IRIN News was seen on Malilink


MALI: Still a long way to go to meet adult literacy targets

BAMAKO,17 April 2008 (IRIN) - In 2000 the Malian government signed up  
to UN Education for All goals to help 50 percent more adults become  
literateby 2015, but eight years on still only 30 percent of Malian  
adults canread or write, and the government is yet to outline its  
strategy toaddress the problem.

“We have very low literacy rates in all languages here in Mali, and we  
know we need to make much faster progress,” Oumar Cissé,  
communications adviser at the Mali Ministry forWomen and Children,  
told IRIN.

According to Idrissa Diarra,education specialist at the UN Children’s  
Fund (UNICEF) in Bamako,literate adults have higher earning power, are  
more likely to escapepoverty, and to take the education of their  
children seriously.

“Ifwomen are illiterate, how can they play a strong role in  
theircommunities, how can they take strong household decisions, and  
how canthey vote?” he asked.

Mali is just one of six countries(alongside Niger, Chad, Ethiopia,  
Mozambique and Afghanistan) in whichunder 40 percent of adults are  
literate, according to UNICEF.

Government policy

InApril 2004 the government launched the Decade of Literacy in  
Missabougou, a district of Bamako. Recognising slow progress  
inincreasing literacy rates, it went on to divide its Education  
Ministryin two in October 2007, creating a ministry of basic education  
andliteracy in national languages, and another to address  
secondary,superior education and professional training.

“Creating aministry solely responsible for literacy shows the  
commitment we haveto improving rates,” Souleymane Kone, national  
director of the Basic Education, Literacy and Languages Ministry, told  
IRIN.

However,he said the government had still not recruited all of  
itsstaff-members, let alone developed a national literacy strategy,  
addingthat he hoped it would be published in a few months.

The president has promised to allocate 3 percent of the national  
educationbudget to adult literacy training as part of the strategy.

Education currently receives 35 percent of the overall government budget.

But Oumar Traouré coordinator of the non-governmental organisation  
Supportfor Quality Education (OMAES), which provides literacy training  
to adults through schools in Seygou, 130km north of Bamako, told IRIN  
thisamount will not be enough to significantly boost the figures.  
“Three percent of 35 percent is nothing,” he told IRIN.

He continued: "But it is better than nothing... at the moment we have  
no electricityor teaching materials in our training centres, and we  
can’t even affordto pay our teachers, so they end up leaving.”

Few teachers

The lack of literate adults to teach literacy programmes is hampering  
success, according to Traouré. Many adult literacy programmes in  
Malian schools are governed by school management committees but in the  
schools where OMAES works, most of the management committee members  
arethemselves illiterate.

In particular, the lack of qualified female literacy trainers poses  
problems, according to UNICEF’s Diarra, because many men are reluctant  
to send female family members to learnunder male teachers, so women  
are often forced to drop out ofprogrammes.

With this in mind the government is working closely with organisations  
such as UNICEF and the UN Educational,Scientific and Cultural  
Organization (UNESCO) to train female teachers,many of them  
school-leavers.

“They don’t need an advancedformal qualification - after all, they are  
only teaching basic languageand numeracy, not how to read the stars,”  
said Diarra.

With the halfway mark for the Education for All target behind them,  
Cissé hopesthe time-pressure will spark results. “We should start to  
see majorchanges this year,” she said.

Despite the enormous efforts thatlie ahead, even Traoré believes Mali  
has some hope of meeting its 2015 targets. “We may get there”, he told  
IRIN, “but only with lots of difficulty.”

aj/cb


-------------- next part --------------

MALI: Still a long way to go to meet adult literacy targetsBAMAKO,17 April 2008 (IRIN) - In 2000 the Malian government signed up to UNEducation for All goals to help 50 percent more adults become literateby 2015, but eight years on still only 30 percent of Malian adults canread or write, and the government is yet to outline its strategy toaddress the problem.

“We have very low literacy rates in alllanguages here in Mali, and we know we need to make much fasterprogress,” Oumar Cissé, communications adviser at the Mali Ministry forWomen and Children, told IRIN.

According to Idrissa Diarra,education specialist at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Bamako,literate adults have higher earning power, are more likely to escapepoverty, and to take the education of their children seriously. 

“Ifwomen are illiterate, how can they play a strong role in theircommunities, how can they take strong household decisions, and how canthey vote?” he asked. 

Mali is just one of six countries(alongside Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Afghanistan) in whichunder 40 percent of adults are literate, according to UNICEF. 

Government policy

InApril 2004 the government launched the Decade of Literacy inMissabougou, a district of Bamako. Recognising slow progress inincreasing literacy rates, it went on to divide its Education Ministryin two in October 2007, creating a ministry of basic education andliteracy in national languages, and another to address secondary,superior education and professional training. 

“Creating aministry solely responsible for literacy shows the commitment we haveto improving rates,” Souleymane Kone, national director of the BasicEducation, Literacy and Languages Ministry, told IRIN. 
 
However,he said the government had still not recruited all of itsstaff-members, let alone developed a national literacy strategy, addingthat he hoped it would be published in a few months. 

Thepresident has promised to allocate 3 percent of the national educationbudget to adult literacy training as part of the strategy.

Education currently receives 35 percent of the overall government budget.

ButOumar Traouré coordinator of the non-governmental organisation Supportfor Quality Education (OMAES), which provides literacy training toadults through schools in Seygou, 130km north of Bamako, told IRIN thisamount will not be enough to significantly boost the figures. “Threepercent of 35 percent is nothing,” he told IRIN. 

He continued:"But it is better than nothing... at the moment we have no electricityor teaching materials in our training centres, and we can’t even affordto pay our teachers, so they end up leaving.”

Few teachers

Thelack of literate adults to teach literacy programmes is hamperingsuccess, according to Traouré. Many adult literacy programmes in Malianschools are governed by school management committees but in the schoolswhere OMAES works, most of the management committee members arethemselves illiterate.

In particular, the lack of qualifiedfemale literacy trainers poses problems, according to UNICEF’s Diarra,because many men are reluctant to send female family members to learnunder male teachers, so women are often forced to drop out ofprogrammes.  

With this in mind the government is workingclosely with organisations such as UNICEF and the UN Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to train female teachers,many of them school-leavers.  

“They don’t need an advancedformal qualification - after all, they are only teaching basic languageand numeracy, not how to read the stars,” said Diarra.

With thehalfway mark for the Education for All target behind them, Cissé hopesthe time-pressure will spark results. “We should start to see majorchanges this year,” she said.

Despite the enormous efforts thatlie ahead, even Traoré believes Mali has some hope of meeting its 2015targets. “We may get there”, he told IRIN, “but only with lots ofdifficulty.”

aj/cb




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