In Mali, despite their differences, Awa and Balkissa have access to education thanks to the intervention of Aide et Action

In Mali, some children are kept away from school because of their differences. This is the case of Awa, a little girl with a disability, and Balkissa, an albino. Thanks to the Access to School for All Children program implemented by Aide et Action, their situation has changed and they now have access to education.

Balkissa is 13 years old and lives in Tiécouraré, in the Mopti region of central Mali. Until then, deprived of an education, her daily life consisted of helping her mother with housework. Like her father and two other siblings, she has albinism and experiences a certain exclusion linked to the cultural context of Mali.

In addition, his village has no school infrastructure and the nearest school, located 6 kilometres away, is unfortunately not functional due to the security situation and teachers' strikes. It is to address this situation that Aide et Action has developed the Programme of Access to School for All Children in Mali (PACETEM).

Tackling discrimination

The project enables the institution of academic courses at the traditional Koranic school in the village. This was made possible by the provision of teaching materials and supplies and the provision of a volunteer teacher trained by the project. Balkissa and the other students at the school can now learn the Qur'an but also receive a more traditional education in French. This opens up new perspectives for the pupils, who can access the different exams of the general education system.

 My dream is to become a doctorsays Balkissa. As my village has no health infrastructure, I would like to build a dispensary and take care of the patients ". In class, she enjoys reading and writing and attends classes diligently, despite the difficulties associated with her albinism.

Offering new perspectives

Awa is 7 years old. She was born with a malformation in her neck. This disability poses a problem for the school in her village, which has refused to enrol her because of the lack of appropriate care.  But thanks to the PACETEM programme, she was able to join the Passerelle Accelerated Schooling Strategy Centre  of Sienbambara and then be enrolled in the village school. " I'm very happy to go to school despite my disability, every day I go to school with my classmates, it makes the journey easier. "says the little girl.  

Awa and her motherI

His mother is also happy about the evolution of the situation. The arrival of the Aide et Action project has changed everything. " Since her enrolment, we have noticed an enthusiasm in her, she is no longer isolated as before and at least once a week the village chief and the relays come to inquire about her situation "she says. Thanks to the PACETEM project, Awa is receiving special attention because of her disability and because of her late enrolment.

Succeeding like any other child

With the doors to school now open, Awa can dream. Despite her neck which hurts from time to time, she fights and wants to succeed like any other child. The enrolment of a disabled pupil is a first for the Siembambara school. This success should motivate other parents to send their children to school, despite a disability, to fight against discrimination.

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