Support for the Quality and Equity of Education

Country Profile: Mali


13,518,000 (2005)

Official Language


Poverty (Population living on less than 1 US$ per day):

72.3 (1990-2004)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

24% (2005)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995–2004)
  • Total: 19%
  • Male: 27%
  • Female: 12%
Total Youth Literacy Rate (15–24 years)

24% (1995-2004)

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP



Programme Overview

Programme TitleSupport for the Quality and Equity of Education
Implementing OrganizationWorld Education Mali
Language of InstructionFrench
FundingUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Date of Inception2003/2004


In 1999, World Education Mali developed and began piloting literacy programmes that help strengthen community participation in education activities. In April 2002, teachers, community members and NGO staff were brought together to write literacy materials, and in 2003, World Education Mali began incorporating the new literacy materials into the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded AQEE programme.

The World Education Mali Programme, “Support for the Quality and Equity of Education” (or “Appui à l’amélioration de la qualité et de l’équalité de l’éducation (AQEE)”) operates in six regions within Mali: Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu, Ségou, Sikasso and Koulikoro.

Within these regions, the programme targets 105 communities with 2,430,676 inhabitants, representing approximately one quarter (24.60%) of the total population of Mali. More specifically, the programme covers 700 schools (300 public schools, 213 community schools, 103 medersa schools, and 4 private schools), 8 teaching academies, and 17 centres for pedagogical training.


Within the framework of the AQEE Programme, fighting illiteracy is combined with initiatives to increase community participation in the support of schools and children’s education.

Key partners are: members of school management committees, members of parents’ associations (mothers’ associations in particular), and other illiterate community leaders who partner with schools.

Main Objectives

The programme aligns itself with the ten-year strategic plan of the Malian Ministry of Education known as the Programme for the Development of Education (PRODEC). It serves as an agent of change that aims to:

The programme serves the Malian community and has the following specific objectives:

The latter component of the programme requires parents to be provided with literacy training so that they can not only contribute to the management of their local primary schools but also follow the school work of their children, who receive bilingual instruction in French and a national language. Hence, the specific goal of the AQEE programme is to provide parents and members of community-based organizations with the basic literacy skills they need to assume those responsibilities.

The focus on adult literacy is intentional and designed to act as a complementary means of improving the quality of education for children. Parents who read and write can better monitor and take part in their children’s school work and activities. Hence, they can also participate in creating and implementing school improvement plans.

Facilitators and Participants


Participants are recruited by community members provided that they meet the following criteria:

While other literacy programmes may offer participants a monetary incentive, World Education Mali participants receive no financial motivation. This is important to the long-term sustainability of the programme. Moreover, World Education Mali has worked to enable elected members to act as community representatives and assume responsibility for choosing trainers and participants and managing the literacy centres.

The facilitators are recruited by the community based on the following criteria:

The employment scheme is determined accordingly by the community in which the facilitator works. There are two facilitators (one man, one woman) per class of 25 to 30 participants.

Methods and Approach

The programme employs the Sanmogoya methodology, a term coined by World Education Mali (Sanmogoya is equivalent to “hard worker” in Bambara). The methodology is action-based, meaning that participants act as the catalysts for change, and utilises content that is relevant to the priorities and needs of the participating community. Trainers employ a problem-solving approach that aims to help participants solve concrete issues while learning how to read, write and calculate.


Facilitators engage learners in dialogue based on visual aids, leading them through a series of questions such as: What problem(s) is/are these people facing? What are the causes of the problem(s)? Is your community or a neighbouring community involved in the same issue? What can we do to avoid or solve this problem? Through the Sanmogoya methodology, learners develop a broader understanding of education-related issues in their community and identify relevant ways of resolving them within the classroom. Courses are conducted in one of three Malian languages, Bamanankan, Tamasheq, and Songhaï, depending on which of these languages is dominant within the local community. Classes are held four times a week for two hours to reinforce the lessons learned. Basic literacy requires 150 hours in total, and is typically achieved in a six-month period. The programme also integrates lessons covering gender equality and HIV/AIDS.

Literacy centres use reading, writing and maths booklets, and image boxes designed for basic education and post-literacy, which are accompanied by a basic education and post-literacy teaching guide in reading, writing and maths. Trainers supplement these materials with a set of letter games and the “Waligana” or numbers table. For women specifically, there are booklets on post-literacy that include topics such as education, health, the environment, good governance and income-generating activities.


Between the time that it was established in 2003/2004 and the end of 2006, the World Education Mali literacy programme has successfully served 17,637 basic literacy learners (of whom 6,524 were women) and 6,831 post-literacy learners (of whom 2,260 were women). Newly acquired literacy skills have enabled parents and community members to participate in 756 school management committees and/or parent associations. Community participation within the education system continues to improve with 1,204 community meetings held to discuss school results and develop capacity-building plans in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. The programme is also building a literate environment for the national languages.

World Education Mali has noticed an improvement in the quality of schools managed by literacy programme participants. Participants have also been more active in the supervision of their children’s education at home and at school. In addition, community awareness has increased in areas such as personal hygiene, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.

World Education Mali also introduced an innovative literacy tool as a result of a public-private partnership called “Kinkajou”, named after a nocturnal animal capable of seeing in the dark. This partnership between USAID, World Education Mali, Design that Matters (affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the Ministry of Education has introduced simple and locally-appropriate technology that enables community members in predominately rural areas to learn to read, write and count at night. The technology consists of a solar panel that charges a battery daily to power the projector used during the evening class. The projector is used in conjunction with the Sanmogoya methodology. An independent evaluation found positive impacts in literacy centres using Kinkajou projectors. In particular, the participants in Kinkajou centres learned material twice as quickly as those in control centres, and displayed lower drop-out rates (66.5% lower among women).

Monitoring and Evaluation

World Education Mali assesses the participants' progress through initial, mid-term and final literacy tests, which follow the system of evaluation established by the Ministry of Education’s Bureau of Non-formal Education as well as the internal and external evaluation methods used by the AQEE programme.


Members of participating communities have displayed a strong will to become literate, but have noted that the community cannot achieve higher literacy rates without the support of key actors and resources, particularly through continued teacher training and material provisions.

One challenge that has been encountered systematically is how to incorporate the newly literate into the professional world so that they can become productive members of Malian society and contribute to the country’s socio-economic development. Some former literacy programme participants have gone on to become teachers in training centres for development. The broader challenge is to focus on expanding the professional options available to this newly literate population.

Furthermore, the current model assigns community members the task of providing motivation to Karamogos (Karamogo means “teacher” in Bambara). While Karamogos must agree on the conditions of motivation, World Education Mali has found that in some cases, the remuneration is minimal, while in others, Karamogos receive no remuneration whatsoever. For World Education Mali, the challenge is to monitor the agreements between community members and the Karamogos, and to ensure that Karamogos receive sufficient motivation.


Community members have been responsible for managing literacy centres since the beginning of the programme while the regional centres for pedagogical training and teaching academies provide technical support and follow-up on ground-level activities.

Community members negotiate the location of the centre, recruit the Karamogos, select an equal proportion of male and female learners and oversee the operations within the centre. The delegation of authority is an integral part of the World Education Mali strategy and a means of institutionalising the programme.

Lessons Learned


Clarifying the key actors’ roles and responsibilities enables them to participate fully in all aspects of the programme’s implementation and promotes the appropriation of the programme by local actors (elected community officials, teaching academies, pedagogical training centres, members of the School Management Committee, etc.). The communities have been able to assume almost total control of the centres by transferring competencies locally and promoting the mobilisation of resources at the community level and through negotiations with other partners.


Betsy Arner Onyango
Program Officer
World Education, Inc.
44 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA

World Education Mali
BP 2137
wemali (at)

Last update: 9 March 2009