Fatoumata Coulibaly, the president of our sister organization, says “Even though the conflict in Mali is extremely tense, there is a little hope and good news.” During her recent trip to the villages, parents express their eagerness for their daughters to go to school. Many of the girls who receive our scholarships confirm this attitude. Djéneba Doumbia reports:
“My grandfather and my father encouraged me a lot to continue my studies.”
Even mothers, who need their daughters to help at home, tell Les Filles Unies how proud they are that their girls can read and write. What’s really promising is that many of the scholars interviewed recently by Les Filles Unies say they feel more respected. Kadia Coulibaly, who just completed 6th grade, claims:
“At my school, now the girls and boys are treated the same way, and in fact in my class the girls are doing better than the boys.”
More Scholars Graduate!
Alima G. Diarra, Eliza Diarra, Fatoumata Coulibaly, Awa Diarra and Maïmouna S. Diarra passed the Diplôme d’Etude Fondamentale (DEF). These exams cover many subjects including geography, mathematics, biology, chemistry, writing and English. Completing lower secondary school is a major achievement for these five students, who have received scholarships since they were in 1st grade.
Less than 1% (actually 0.3%) of girls living in extreme poverty in Mali reach this level of education, according to the 2016 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report.
Alima, one of the graduates, is intelligent and bold. At the “Day of Awareness to Stop Child Marriage” organized by Les Filles Unies, she stood next to the Mayor while urging all parents to send their daughters to school. Surprisingly, Alima has also succeeded in persuading her husband to support her education. To this very day, early marriage remains a major reason why more than half of girls in Mali drop out of school. However, this determined 16-year-old plans to attend a professional trade school. Alima was once a small, timid girl back in 3rd grade, but now she is “toujours dynamique et courageuse.”
Fatoumata with Les Filles Unies, says as more of these scholars graduate “it will motivate the younger girls to continue their studies and to become like the more elder ones who have passed the DEF.” Many girls still repeat the same grade and a large number continue to be married. Since the start of our scholarship program back in 2004 that grew to support 75 girls, and as we approach the 2017-2018 school year, our sister organization estimates that 20-25 girls will continue to climb the ladder one grade at a time.
Our 100% volunteer-run Mali Girls Scholarship Program still means $75 will cover the cost of tuition, books, school supplies and mentoring for one girl for an entire school year.