A “gateway class” to find the way back to school

Thanks to the creation of alternative classes, out-of-school pupils can benefit from accelerated learning in order to go back to school.

By Julie Crenn
Hama entrain d'etudier chez-lui
UNICEF Mali/2020/Allaye
13 November 2020

Donou, Dogon country – Hama is ready to attend school. After nine months of training at the Accelerated Learning Programme in the village of Segue-Iré, the twelve-year-old boy is eager to get back to school.

Launched by UNICEF and its implementing partner, the NGO APIDEV, through support from KOICA, this Accelerated Learning Programme, known as the "gateway class", enables out-of-school children aged 8 to 12 to benefit from nine months of accelerated classes in order to reintegrate the formal school system. 

"I learned to read, write and do math," says Hama, whose schooling was interrupted at the age of seven. "The lack of resources in families, the distance from school or the lack of confidence in the public education system are all reasons for children to drop out of school," explains Allaye Ouologuem, supervisor of the Accelerated Learning Programme Centres for the partner NGO APIDEV in Bandiagara circle. In Mali, UNICEF estimates that more than two million children are out of the school system.

 “It is through his or her education that a child will project itself into the future.”

Allaye Ouologuem, supervisor of the Accelerated Learning Programme Centres
Portrait d’Allaye Ouologuem superviseur SSAP Bandiagara, ville de Sévaré, région de Mopti, Septembre 2020.
UNICEF Mali/2020/Keita

UNICEF's work primarily benefits the most vulnerable children: those outside the school system, girls, displaced children, children with special needs and those affected by conflict or other emergencies. Through this Accelerated Learning Programme and direct reintegration programmes supported by KOICA, UNICEF works with its partners to provide quality basic education to out-of-school children.

"As an NGO worker and father of a child, I know how important continuity in education is," says Allaye, "It is through his or her education that a child will project itself into the future. A good citizen is one who has received a good education from the school and his family. »

The Accelerated Learning Programme Centre facilitates the reintegration of children into the formal education system by bringing its structures closer to the communities who need it most. "Each Centre must be no more than 5 km from a school. This way we are sure that these pupils will be able to find their way back to school," insists Allaye Ouologuem, with a smile.

The region of Mopti now has 20 of such Centres and 600 children have benefited from the support of this educational programme. "Since our child entered this centre, we have received school kits and we have paid nothing, everything has been taken care of," emphasises Issaka and Aïssetou Kansagne, Hama’s parents. "We really thank UNICEF and APIDEV.”

"Every month the learners are assessed to monitor their progress and, in June, a final exam is organised with the support of the technical services in charge of education to evaluate their progress and transfer the children to the formal system," explains Allaye. This is the case with Hama, who obtained the pass mark and is now waiting for the start of the 2020-2021 school year to join his new school in Donou. Admitted to join the fourth grade, the boy aims higher: "I am very proud to have learned all this and I want to continue studying for as long as I can." Full of hope, Hama says he even dreams of becoming a school headmaster "because teaching is too important, it helps a lot of children".