04 January 2008

The Mali Initiative launches to make Change through Education

(5 January 2008 Bamako, Mali) - The Mali Initiative, a not-for-profit network of committed individuals around the world aspiring to make change through education launches with the start of 2008. Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” stressing the fundamental importance of education for development.

Therefore, the initiative aims at improving the education of children to become an active generation for a better future. It facilitates global partnerships for local development projects which communities drive and own themselves. It focuses on improving access to quality education for the children in Mali where around half of all children have no access to schools at all.

Activities include facilitating the construction of new class-rooms as well as significant improvement and equipping of existing class-rooms, enabling an effective learning environment. Furthermore, teacher training and ongoing support is provided empowering teachers to use engaging and effective techniques, including laptop computers.

Education is seen as a priority at national and village levels in Mali, with good reason. Many children have no access to any schools at all. Class-rooms hold up to over 100 children where most children do not have tables and chairs or books and pens. With 81% illiteracy rate, 4 out of 5 adults can not read and write, according to UN data.

“How shall you learn or find a job without being able to read and write? Education holds the key for sustainable development in action, you see the difference child per child” says Youchaou Traore, Director of the non-governmental organization (NGO) that has been officially registered to undertake activities in Mali.

Youchaou was a street-child himself, without access to education for many years. He decided to leave the begging in the streets behind him when he got the chance to go to school where he learned enthusiastically. Education pulled him out of poverty and allowed him to become a renowned translator for international organizations. Now he runs the flagship school of the Mali Initiative in Bamako.

“A world is possible where all children have access to quality education” believes Elise Klein, Managing Director. “We know it is a long way but bringing together local communities in Mali with passionate individuals from Australia and around the world is powerful. Step by step we have been building friendships, developed class-rooms and given children the gift of education” she continues.

The Mali Initiative is based on the success of a project by young people and Malian Youchaou Traore who have fundraised and invested over 200.00$ since 2004. The pilot school in the outskirts of Mali’s capital Bamako has been expanded to now 12 class-rooms, a library and computer-room. The school is a quality-reference and considered one of the best in the country. Furthermore, a pilot with street children successfully educates these marginalized children.

By 2020 the Mali Initiative wants to have developed 1.000 class-rooms, trained 10.000 teachers and have facilitated the education of over 500.000 children in Mali. “Young people are the future. We are going to need a lot support to scale up the successful pilot schools. Individuals and organizations, please join the initiative!” calls Elise Klein, Managing Director who also is a UN Youth Spokesperson.

“Help is especially needed in raising funds for additional class-rooms which each costs up to 13.000$ in poor but expensive Mali. Adopt a class-room which is more than a donation, you get a great social return on investment: enabling quality education of 30 children per year” says Program Director Juergen Nagler.

So far the growing network consists of some dozens of committed individuals bringing in their passion, skills and time; Corporate supporters include National Australia Bank and Telstra. Express your interest to support the Mali Initiative by emailing to elise.klein@mali-initiative.org. For more information see www.reachmaliproject.org.au. To make a donation use PayPal, please.

About the Mali Initiative

The Mali Initiative is a not-for-profit network of committed individuals around the world aspiring to make change. We facilitate global partnerships for local development projects which communities drive and own themselves. We focus on improving access to quality education for the children in Mali. A non-governmental organization (NGO) is officially registered in Mali. Tax-deductibility status is also given in Australia through the Reach Foundation. Fore more information, please visit www.reachmaliproject.org.au.

About Mali

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is the 4th poorest country in the world with over 70% living of less than 1$ per day according to UN data. It has a population of 12 million people, of which over the half is under 15 years old and 81% are unable to read and write. However, Mali is also a positive example for African countries and the world as a stable democracy where Muslims, Christians and different ethnic groups live peacefully together.