From a Temporary Learning Space to a formal school

Supported school integration for displaced children

By Fatou Diagne
Amadou Barry, 14 ans, est en train d’écrire dans son cahier UNICEF, Amadou fréquente la classe de 6ème année à l’école fondamentale de Saréma dans la périphérie de la ville de Sévaré. Mais auparavant, il a passé dix mois à l’espace temporaire d'apprentissage mis en place par l’UNICEF pour les enfants déplacés en situation d’abandon scolaire.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Keita
14 May 2021

Seated in the front row of his class, Amadou actively participates in the sixth grade French and grammar lessons given by Mr. Salifou, his teacher.

Just 14 years old, and Amadou has experienced trauma that every child should be spared. "Armed men killed my uncle, my dad's brother and asked us to leave our village," he says sadly, as he looks away evasively.

Amadou's family, his father Oumar and his mother Aminata as well as his brothers and sisters, traveled for more than 100 km from their village in Bandiagara to Sévaré town. Amadou thought that the situation was temporary and that they would return home very quickly, but unfortunately the situation has been going on for more than two years now.

Initially, they were hosted by members of their community.  A few months later, they found refuge in the internally displaced site of Socoura. They were then able to settle in a modest accommodation about ten minutes’ walk from his new school in Sarema. Oumar, Amadou's dad, is now a security guard of a local bank. He was able to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment to offer some normalcy to his family and allow his children to be close to their new school.

Abdoulaye Dolo directeur du premier cycle de l’école de Saréma échange avec Amadou Barry, 14 ans, élève en classe de 6ème année dans son bureau. Mais auparavant, Amadou a passé dix mois à l’espace temporaire d'apprentissage mis en place par l’UNICEF pour les enfants déplacés en situation d’abandon scolaire.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Keita

In Mali, more than one in two displaced persons is a child. The humanitarian and security crisis in Mopti has profoundly changed the lives of millions of children like Amadou. With 40% of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mali, the region currently has the highest number of IDPs.

After 10 months of schooling in the Temporary Learning Space (TLS) of Socoura, during the 2018-2019 school year, Amadou is now formally integrated into the basic school of Sarema. Despite the COVID19 pandemic and school closures for months, Amadou feels confident and ready for the new 2020-2021 school year. The teachers at his new school have benefited from training in remedial courses techniques to facilitate the integration for children like Amadou into mainstream schools, and they are also trained in psychosocial support to take care of children affected by the conflicts. Today, in Mopti, thanks to thematic funds support, 919 internally displaced children, including 412 girls, who passed through the TLS are well integrated into public schools.

“At the beginning, we wondered if one day these children living in IDP sites could follow a normal school curriculum in a public school. But today we are proud to see that in addition to leaving the TLS, some have braved the odds and obtained their basic school certificates,” said Dramane Touré, Director of the second cycle of the Sarema fundamental school.

Les élèves de la classe de 6ème année fondamentale à l’école de Saréma dans la périphérie de la ville de Sévaré montrent leurs cahiers offerts par l’UNICEF. Aujourd’hui grâce à l’appui de l'UNICEF, beaucoup d’enfants déplacés ont regagné le chemin de l’école et ont même bénéficié des kits scolaires offerts par l’UNICEF, ville de Sévaré, région de Mopti, centre du Mali, février 2021.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Keita

Even after their integration, UNICEF and partner NGOs monitor the educational progress of each of these children.  To minimise any abandonment or dropping out of school, the school children are provided with school kits.

"In 2020, in Mopti, more than 16,000 school age children received support to bridge learning gaps through the establishment of TLS in IDP sites and their reintegration from these TLS into public schools. The funds ensured that displaced pupils are taken in by the host schools or that while out of school, children can follow lessons through the broadcasting of educational programs via community radios and local listening groups. This is made possible with the accompanying distribution of solar-powered radios," explains Salif Kampo, education officer at the UNICEF office in Mopti.

"When I grow up, I will be a parliamentarian and my first priority will be the return of peace to Mali"

Amadou, 14 ans
Dans la salle de classe, l’enseignant assiste Amadou Barry, 14 ans, à bien lire. Amadou fréquente la classe de 6ème année à l’école fondamentale de Saréma dans la périphérie de la ville de Sévaré. Mais auparavant, il a passé dix mois à l’espace temporaire d'apprentissage mis en place par l’UNICEF pour les enfants déplacés en situation d’abandon scolaire.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Keita

"At the beginning, I didn't get very good marks because my level was a little bit lower than the other pupils, but with the help of my big sister and the teacher's explanations, I'm starting to get good marks. It will take some time, but I'm sure I'll get there,” says Amadou, who is proud to receive a high mark in grammar today.

Amadou is clear about what he will do in future.  He is certain that in 3 years, he will pass his diploma at the end of basic studies and will one day be an important member of parliament. "When I grow up, I will be a parliamentarian and my first priority will be the return of peace to Mali" he tells us.

Amadou Barry, 14 ans, dans sa famille avec sa mère Aminata Barry et ses frères et sœurs.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Keita

“My eldest sister has returned to our village, she lives with a friend of my mother's and continues her high school there. I know that soon we will all be able to return home, find our loved ones, our school and our friends,” concludes Amadou, surrounded by his mother, his brothers and sisters after a long studious day, but with greater serenity for the future.