Thanks to a generous sponsor and his group of friends, a new school is rising in the little village of Kafara.
Looking at this year's DEF results we see something we've seen in previous years -- an incredibly wide variation in pass rates among our schools. Two schools did incredibly well with 98% of their students passing; two schools did incredibly poorly with 0% of their students passing. Nine of our 19 middle schools beat the average national pass rate this year (70%), while 10 did not. Why this incredible variation in results?
The DEF exam in Mali tests 9th grade students as they graduate from middle school. If students pass the test, they are eligible to continue on to higher education. If they fail, they must repeat 9th grade until they succeed. This reality combined with the fact that the DEF test results are the only quantitative measure we have of how much our students are learning means that it’s incredibly important to us to have strong pass rates. Frustratingly, DEF pass rates fluctuate greatly from year to year. Why?
Don't miss the fun & the great food! If you are in the Salt Lake City area, join us on September 27th for an evening of celebration, exploration, and great West African food.
I love working with the data because it shows us where we’re at, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. It’s exciting to track our progress over multiple years, to dig into whether we’re improving or not and why. But as much as data is able to tell us, there is a lot that it can’t tell us, and a lot that is misleading with careful review.
Sometimes you meet a young person who just inspires you. Such was the case for me when I met Roshini. In addition to raising funds for scores of menstural kits for our girls, Roshini inspired us to launch a new Mali Rising Project -- the Youth Ambassadors. Now we need a few more bright high school students to help make it happen.
Mali Rising's first-ever virtual walking challenge -- Miles for Mali -- is in the books! This May, thirty-three volunteers walked more than 2,400 miles to raise $2,100 to build a new school for the kids of Sankama, Mali. We had a great time with our volunteer walkers, and everyone did a great job. However, one walker really stood out -- Phoebe Mathew from Holland, Pennsylvania. Why did she stand out you ask?
My name is Molly Hanrahan, and I’m the Monitoring and Evaluation Intern for Mali Rising this summer. I just finished my first year at the University of Utah, and I’m hoping to go into global health, public health, or the nonprofit world. When looking for opportunities for this summer, I was drawn to Mali Rising, as I’m sure many of you were, because the work they do is important and inspiring….
By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
This month as part of our Miles for Mali campaign, I’ve pledged to walk (and run) 160 miles. Miles for Mali is using this virtual walking event to raise funds to build a school for the children of the little village of Sankama in southern Mali.
I’m pretty active (and I have a young border collie to keep me motivated), so the actual distance hasn’t been too much of a challenge thus far. I think my body actually really likes walking, so physically it has been all positive. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally drop those 5 pounds I gained when I took this job!
But timewise fitting in the distance has been more of a challenge. Squeezing in time in a busy day for a good walk is an on-going pressure. I’ve used Miles for Mali to motivate me to get out of bed on a Saturday and go for a good hike or to take an evening stroll with the dogs instead of zoning out with Netflix.
Those are small life adjustments, but it has really made me think about the reality for our students in Mali, who have to find the time to do these walks every school day, all school year long.
On average, before Mali Rising builds a school with a partner village, the nearest school is 3 to 5 miles away on average – making for a 6 to 10 mile round-trip each day. And to fit that in around a school day that runs from 8am to 5pm, extensive chores at home, and finding a bit of time to actually do homework…well, you can see where students struggle.
Building a school for the kids of Sankama will make their commute easy so they can focus their time on learning, and on being a kid. Currently, about 90 percent of students in Sankama drop out after elementary school because they just can’t do the long walk to the nearest middle school.
Want to help? Support a school for Sankama! You can donate here or support one of our great Miles for Mali walkers here.
The older generation tends to worry – or, let’s be honest, complain – about young people’s work ethic, energy, and even empathy. You can think of this as the “Kids today” cliché: “Kids today don’t think of others.” “Kids today don’t take initiative.” Etc., etc. Well Roshini Balan is proving just how cliché that thinking is.