Mohamed Abdoulaye, a first-grade teacher at the school of Berrah in Mali’s Gao Region, strongly believes in the power of education to change children’s lives. His life and those of his students have been affected by conflict: northern Mali has been experiencing separatist uprisings since the 1960s and has more recently become a sanctuary for armed fighters linked to al-Qaeda. This has affected children and families, limiting their educational opportunities.
For Mohamed, who views the first grade as a critical foundation for the future, the situation raises concerns about his students’ fates.
In response to the Malian government’s concerns about educational opportunities and childhood development, USAID has launched the Education Emergency Support Activity (EESA) Project, which provides remedial courses in reading, writing, and mathematics for first- and second-grade students. USAID is implementing the project in 250 schools and communities across five conflict-affected regions of Mali.
This initiative helped Mohamed regain his hope and achieve his goals as a teacher. “Thanks to the remedial courses, the majority of my students will graduate to the next level,” he said. He was able to recommend 72% of his students for graduation – a higher share than the initial program estimate.
The program has also affected parents like Arber Maiga, who states, “[w]e were afraid that our children would miss this school year, but thanks to the remedial courses, not only have they caught up to the official curriculum, they are also equipped to thrive in the upper classes.”
USAID’s commitment to addressing the challenges of conflict and crisis allows teachers like Mohamed to give all children the opportunity to learn.