Falling Through the Cracks
Barriers to conflict-affected Malian children's education
The aim of this research was to uncover key barriers to children's lack of educational access in light of the 2012 conflict in Mali in order to improve upon existing programming occurring in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Further, this report contributes to fill a gap in evidence for education in emergencies in West Africa. While efforts are being made by the Ministries of Education in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to support these out of school children access education, there have been numerous challenges. In the Niger refugee camps, humanitarian and education agencies have only been able to enroll a little over 4,000 children in learning activities out of the estimated 18,000 school-aged children. In the Burkina Faso refugee camps, there are similar results with only about 4,900 out of 23,200 children being reached.
The continuing challenge supporting conflict-affected children's learning is the impetus for this investigation. The research aimed to identify and explore the myriad barriers to conflict-affected children's educational access in Mali and in the refugee camps in Niger and Burkina Faso.Primary data was collected from affected adults, adolescents and youth and children, teachers, parents using focus group discussions (FGD). Key informant Interviews (KII) with staff from the Ministry of Education, United Nations, INGOs, and NGOs provided further primary research data. Three countries were targeted in this research and four locations. In Mali, data was collected in Koira Beiry where many internally displaced persons (IDPs) still live. At the time of the data collection, IDP camps had already closed down. In Burkina Faso, data was collected from Mentao refugee camp and in Niger, data was collected from Mangaize and Tabareybarey refugee camps.
There are 9 clear barriers to children's access to education in the conflict-affected areas; while explored individually here, they are inter-connected and reinforce each other, each exacerbating the other. They include:
- ethnic identity;
- perceptions on education's value;
- discrimination against girls;
- physical distance;
- challenges for adolescents;
- poor learning environment; and
- insufficient teachers.
- Expand Accelerated and Alternative Learning Opportunities
- Access to Relevant Teaching and Learning Materials
- Expand Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) opportunities near schools
- Provide a healthy snack or hot meal during the school day
- Provide security for girls so they can attend secondary school
- Grade level testing for children
- Support for Parents
- Awareness Raising Campaign
- Support for Teachers