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

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  • Donald Z. Osborn
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17 7:23 AM
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      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



      ----------


      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 Ciss�, 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 Traour� 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 Traour�. 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, Ciss� hopesthe time-pressure will spark results. �We should start to see majorchanges this year,� she said.

      Despite the enormous efforts thatlie ahead, even Traor� 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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