ESL, in its charter of commitment to sustainable development, established in 2008, clearly defines the goal which is leading the Swiss group to support an project of aid to a primary school in Mali :
Because we wish to take full part in the sustainable development of the territories where we are installed, and because we wish to contribute to the sustainable development of the most disadvantaged regions and populations, we undertake to :
develop partnerships with associations and NGOs, promoting insertion, citizen education, the accompaniment of people in difficulties and sustainable development
In Mali, a country of 14 million inhabitants, the education system has gone through highs and lows during the last few decades. The first president of Mali, Modibo Keïta, proclaimed education as a priority in the 1960s. Quality teaching established immediately allowed Mali to equip itself with executives and intellectuals necessary for the development of the country.
But a coup d’etat, in 1968, brought Moussa Traoré to power. The authoritarian regime, which sets in with him, devalues training and puts an end to the policy of fundamental teaching advocated by Keïta. Between 1968 and 1989, the school enrolment rate passed from 29% to 22%. The school becomes the field of the struggle for democracy. Student revolts are violently repressed by the power, and the leader of the protesting students is assassinated in March 1980.
With the establishment of the third republic and the election of Alpha Oumar Konaré to its presidency, in 1992, education becomes a priority again. Private teaching is recognised by the State which controls the programmes and organises the exams. Community schools created, managed and self-financed by the village communities or by associations benefit from State support. Under the presidency of Toumani Touré, the effort in favour of education is maintained.
But since always, the schooling of girls is behind. Geographical inequalities also exist, in spite of the development of community schools, which will progressively allow to bridge the backwardness of schooling in rural settings.
With overcrowded classes (sometimes more than 100 students per class), a considérable deficit in school textbooks and bad learning conditions, the rate of abandonment is significant.
It is this precarious context that Harandé TOURE, the director of the BAHADOU school in Timbuktu operates. ESL has therefore decided to get involved in order to a give a serious helping hand and assistance to this institution. We are currently organising the sending, by land and by sea, of more than thirty desks and around sixty chairs in a container. A collection of donations will allow us to soon transport packages containing a notepad, 2 pens, 2 pencils, an eraser and a ruler to each student.
Each week, this blog will keep you up to date on the advancement of this project which is close to our hearts ! Follow with us the development of ESL’s Mali project.