MFM has provided a scholarship to the top male and female student of their class to go the high school in Bamako, the capital. The scholarships cover lodging, supplies, transportation, and meals. Without these scholarships, it would be very difficult for these top students to pay the expenses of going to school in the capital. These scholarships serve as an incentive for others to work hard to gain a scholarship and thus improve their life and the lives of their families, present and future. These scholarship winners are the future of Mali.
We did notice that as the students get older in school, fewer and fewer are female. In order to increase the number of girls in school, Medicine for Mali provides Teacher Training for a total of 7 village schools. The emphasis is on the girls remaining in school; however, the training is for effectively teaching all students. The training emphasizes current best practices. MFM is in the process of creating communities of Learners in the schools. In the ‘Learning communities’ teachers will practice how to cooperate and learn what is working well in their school. We have seen an increase in the number of students in school and especially the number of girls in school. The village management committees area being trained in their roles and responsibilities, including keeping track of finances. Supervisory visits to each school are done quarterly by the district teacher trainer. This has not been done before due to government lack of funds.
Altrusa International of Columbus, a women’s service organization, has given grants since 2009-10 to make the teacher training programs possible.
Incentives for top test performers at school
Small gifts are given to the top female performers at the school. Community members relate that these incentives were very important as incentives for girls to do well on tests.
A school in Kati, IEP Institute d’Education Populaire, is partnering with one school in our area to teach beginning readers to read in the native Bambara. Teacher training and books to read are provided. Another school in our area is serving as a control group.