Checking In With Our Girls Before Summer

By Merritt Frey, Executive Director

School is out for summer in Mali! While that means less homework for our students, in means more for staff here at Mali Rising. In particular: math homework.

Why? Well, over the summer is when we do the majority of our evaluation for the year. We review all kinds of measures and metrics designed to better understand what's working in our schools and what isn't. From enrollment to test scores, we dig through it all.

Currently, I'm working with a lot of wonderful information collected by our Girls Project Coordinator, Hindaty, to evaluate the first year of the Project. Because this is a new project evaluation is particularly important -- although we designed the Project based on best practices, we know there will be changes to be made.

I'm still wading through the 100+ self-evaluations done by our pilot village girls, and Hindaty is still collecting drop out rates and other data to help us evaluate. But we have some initial data -- both qualitative and quantitative starting to take form. Here's a little snapshot from our initial notes on early data and stories:

Simidji: -12% girls
Kolimba: +67% girls
Beneko: +11% girls
Total: +8% girls 

The short story is a good one: overall girls’ enrollment in the three pilot villages increased by 7.7 percent. We saw the largest improvement in Kolimba, which previously had the worst ratio of girls to boys with 78% boys to 22% girls in the 15/16 school year. This year, that ratio improved to 67% boys to 33% girls. Similarly, Beneko improved from 64% boys and 36% girls last year to 57% boys and 43% girls this year. 

Sadly, both the overall number of girls and the ratio of boys to girls worsened in the third village: Simidji. Exploring the challenges in this village will be a focus on our work this summer and in the coming year. Simidji is the same village that we previously reported had a slow adoption of the Project. Hindaty believes that we will enroll more girls in Simidji next year, as the village now accepts the project. She also pointed out that in the 15/16 school year many of the 58 girls enrolled dropped out during the year; this year not one girl dropped out.


To date our data largely focuses on dry numbers about enrollment (that will change later this summer with the addition of the girls' evaluations and exam scores!). To balance that out, I asked our Hindaty to share a story of one girl who particularly makes Hindaty feel that the Project is meaningful and changing lives. Hindaty said:

“All of the girls were helped in one way or another by the Girls Project, but some were especially helped. This is the case for Tenin Sacko, aged 18. She is currently enrolled in 9th grade in the pilot village of Beneko. Tenin had intended to leave school once married, because she was sure her new husband would not allow her to continue. But thanks to the Girls Project, Tenin was able to convince her husband to let her finish so that she could take the DEF exam and graduate. She told him about the importance of the DEF as it had been explained to her in the first Girls Group meeting. She still ended up getting married, but remained in school and will soon take the DEF exam. There are many such cases in the three pilot villages!”

Thanks for your support of the Girls Project and our Girls!