In Mali, students returned to school this morning for the new school year 2023-2024.

This year, nearly half a million children of school age will not have access to more than 1,500 schools that are still non-functional despite the reopening of around ten establishments thanks to the efforts of the government and partners.

02 October 2023
Safiatou Samaké (12 ans) et ses amies, parcourent 3 km chaque jour à pied pour aller à l’école du village de Foulabougou.

Bamako, 2nd October 2023 – 

Today marks the start of the new school year in Mali, as millions of children in Africa and around the world, Malian students go back to school for the 2023-2024 academic year.   

However, the crisis situation in Mali does not allow all children to enjoy their fundamental right of access to inclusive, quality education. Despite significant efforts by the government and its partners to reopen dozens of schools, 1,546 schools were non-functional at the end of the 2022-2023 school year, to the detriment of 460,000 school-age children.    

"The number of out-of-school children is increasing every year due to Mali's high population growth and declining access, exacerbated by the security crisis, hence a large school dropout rate," said UNICEF Representative in Mali, Dr. Pierre Ngom.   

In Mali, the back-to-school campaign, which aims to engage communities, focusing on parents and guardians, in the enrolment and re-enrolment of children, has begun and will continue until the end of October 2023 in all regions and the district of Bamako.  

UNICEF supported technical partners in mobilizing 4,000 child ambassadors - with equal numbers of girls and boys - and 1,000 youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years to get all children back to school and to enroll the majority of school-age children, especially the most vulnerable and those affected by the crises.  These child ambassadors and youth volunteers are raising awareness and mobilizing parents, children and caregivers on the benefits of education. This deployment was made possible thanks to financial support from Germany and Denmark.    

In response to children not going to school or dropping out, the young ambassadors of the new school year are helping to strengthen dialogue in their community on the importance of education through door-to-door activities, radio broadcasts and community dialogue sessions. From 2019 to 2023, 286,598 out-of-school children (including 120,375 girls) were enrolled or re-enrolled thanks to UNICEF, with financial support from Germany, Austria, Education Cannot Wait, the Peacebuilding Fund, Norway, the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF Spain, and the European Union.   

However, the prolonged closure of schools, the growing number of internally displaced people, of whom the majority are children, the threats posed by the deteriorating security situation, and the effects of climate change are increasing the risk of school drop-out and exacerbating the pre-existing learning crisis. Against this backdrop, UNICEF and its partners are pursuing their efforts to support access to quality, inclusive education in a protective environment.   

UNICEF is developing alternative education offers adapted to specific contexts, and supporting the Ministry of Education in building its resilience to cope with shocks. In this way, UNICEF contributes to the rapid response in education and protection for displaced children, as well as supporting host communities and pursuing the development of alternatives to formal schooling, including distance education through radio, and digital resources, and the recruitment of volunteer community-based teachers.  

Moreover, education plays a central role in protecting children, and represents a strong vector for peace and social cohesion. UNICEF contributes to the promotion of peace and cohesion through a number of initiatives. This year's Back to School campaign, for example, places particular emphasis on the role of education in promoting peace and social cohesion, with messages conveyed during awareness-raising and mobilization sessions for pupils, parents and communities.    

"Everyone talks about the importance of peace, but peace starts with us children. I'm asking everyone to join hands so that our beautiful Mali can go back to the way it was, so that peace can reign and, above all, so that all children can go to school and learn in peace," declared Mariam Diallo, 15 years old Child Ambassador.   

The promotion of peace and social cohesion at school also takes place throughout the year with specific activities such as inter-school meetings, sports and cultural tournaments, but also through humanitarian response in the field of education, for both displaced people and host communities.   

#ForEveryChild, a quality education.  


Media contacts

Fatou Diagne
Communication Specialist
Tel: + 223 71 17 03 55


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