October 30, 2014 15:56 UTC

Education

Mali Conflict Keeps Children Out of School

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These refugees from the Malian town of Gao are staying in Bamako, the country's capital.These refugees from the Malian town of Gao are staying in Bamako, the country's capital.
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These refugees from the Malian town of Gao are staying in Bamako, the country's capital.
These refugees from the Malian town of Gao are staying in Bamako, the country's capital.

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report in Special English.
 
Students and teachers are busy with the new school year in Mali and throughout West Africa. However, aid workers say most of the children in northern Mali are unable to go to school. Militants including some from the group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb took control of the north in April. The Islamists are enforcing their own severe form of Sharia law in the occupied territory.  
 
The United Nations Security Council is urging West African countries to speed up preparations for a military intervention in northern Mali. There are concerns that the conflict might spread to other countries.
 
Large numbers of northerners have fled to the government-held south or to neighboring countries. Tom Mccormack is the Sahel director for the aid group Save the Children USA. He says there has not been enough information from northern Mali to fully understand the situation.
 
“We are very concerned that education is not being provided for all children. We’re concerned that funds need to be made available to assist children, particularly those who have been displaced by the fighting, have not been made available, especially for education in this emergency response that we and other actors on the ground here are trying to respond to.”
 
Save the Children is part of the Education Cluster, a group created by the U.N. to coordinate the emergency response in Mali. The Education Cluster says the two hundred forty thousand students remaining in the north have little to no access to education. Cluster official Joa Keis says this increases the risk of children being recruited as child soldiers.
 
“It’s been shown that out-of-school children are particularly vulnerable to falling into the hands of armed groups given the situation in northern Mali. With the presence of several armed groups controlling the area, it is particularly important that we use education as a means of protecting children from the potential for ongoing use of child soldiers.”
 
Human rights groups say the Islamists are actively recruiting children as young as twelve years old.
 
The Education Cluster surveyed twenty five organizations in the north. Three-fourths of them said local schools had been vandalized or destroyed. Half reported that teachers had fled to the south. And one-third said armed groups occupy schools.
 
Save the Children also says flooding has affected an additional sixty thousand children across Mali.
 
Yet financial assistance for the country remains low. Joa Keis says last year's humanitarian appeals process met just four percent of the goal.
 
Teachers and local organizations say they have kept some schools operating in the north by negotiating compromises with armed groups. Subjects like philosophy and biology are often not allowed. Girls and boys must often be separated. And some schools are only allowed to teach in Arabic, a language that most of the students do not even speak.
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Contributing: Peter Tinti and Jerilyn Watson
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Doan Thi Hoai Thuy from: viet nam
10/29/2012 2:20 PM
big thanks VOA, I love Mr. Steve ember


by: Maurizio from: Italy
10/29/2012 10:51 AM
That type of abuse is just a part of the aspect in situation like this. Armed groups can impose their will just because they are armed. If we want to resolve situation like this is important that every industrialized country that produce arms decide together to ban the arms trade that provides wealth just for few and it creates many problems and high costs to world community.


by: Edgar Guariguata Gil from: Venezuela
10/26/2012 11:47 AM
What a shame, it is the sadest history I hear, what a shame.
The children are the future, don't forget that


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
10/25/2012 3:04 PM
It is very pathetic that conflicts prevent children in Mali going to school. Know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Education is the truth. Militants and more radicals have their own stupified kind of mental make up. But Zulfikir Ali Bhuto, the once Pakistan president once commented: 'It is possible for a civilized man to commit suicide but it is not possible for a civilized man to kill the child of his own creation. I stand for the liberation of women but you still try to cover them in darkness. Literacy is my child, then how can I kill it?'. But childrens are the fruit of joy and they should be the free citizens of the universe. If children are indoctrinated, their future will be in peril. It is fully up to the developed nation like the US to render help to Mali's pressing needs. Thank you.

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