By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
Eagle Environmental Academy is located in the small village of Lofine, in the far southeastern corner of Mali. Visiting this pretty village requires a long, bumpy, dusty drive through the pretty country of the Sikasso region…but it is worth the drive.
The Academy was built by Mali Rising Foundation in 2013 with a generous gift from Eagle Environmental, Inc. located in Utah. Since its founding, the village has been a wonderful partner with strong local leaders and dedicated school staff.
Eagle Environmental Academy is one of our farthest flung schools, located near the boarder of Cote d'Ivoire. This school year, Mali Rising visited the Academy two times.
The first visit in December sparked an energetic celebration as the sponsors, Fred Johnson and his wife Ivy, were in attendance. Music, dancing, and speeches were the order of the day. Every village in Mali knows how to throw a wonderful party, but Lofine truly shines when it comes to music and dancing. While there, the generous Johnsons announced they would sponsor two Inspiration Scholars for the coming year and offered additional support for some modest classroom needs at the school.
A second visit in early June by Mali Rising staff was more low-key, but just as productive. Our Field Director Alou met with the school director and teachers, as well as the full school committee. The Director, Lamine Kone, shared his hopes that the school would do well on this June’s national graduation exam. The school committee reported their hard work on keeping the school maintained – including work to exclude bats from the school. Alou also discussed the selection of the Inspiration Scholarship students and inventoried the school’s books.
Looking Back at the 16/17 School Year
Eagle Environmental Academy enrolled 171 students in the 16/17 school year. The student body was 56% boys and 44% girls, placing the Academy about mid-pack among our schools in terms of gender balance. In July, we will receive the results from the national exam for all of our schools, including the Academy.
Two Academy teachers attended our March 2017 teacher training where they spent five days learning from expert trainers and sharing with their peers. Both attendees gave the training the highest rating and reported they would use what they learned in their classrooms regularly. Both teachers stated that the most useful things they learned were strategies for managing large groups (which makes sense as they had between 52 and 90 students in each grade this year!), and they also noted the usefulness of the sessions on teaching tools for helping both boys and girls succeed.
On both visits this year we found the school to be beautifully well-maintained and the classrooms clean and tidy. Mali Rising provided several new book storage cabinets to ensure textbooks are protected from the elements and from insects.
Mali Rising is proud of our partnership with the people of Lofine and their hard work to bring quality education to their children. We look forward to celebrating exam results with the students of Lofine later this summer!