We usually feature Mali Rising's current students in "Student Spots"...hence the name. However, here we feature a young woman who missed out on schooling because she has such an important message about the value of education for girls.

This is Sirantou, an eighteen-year-old girl who illustrates an all-too-common problem in Mali – early marriage of girls. In Mali, 15 percent of girls are married by the time they are 15 and 50 percent are married by the time they are 18. Once married, few girls are allowed to return to school.

"I am married. I left school when I was in seventh grade two years ago... It is because of marriage that I have abandoned school. The housework prevented me from coming to school. I have greatly regretted that fact. The advice I give to my fellows is that they take courage in the studies and try to educate parents of students and their husbands to let them to continue to study. I envy much those who arrive to continue their studies."

Mali Rising is helping keep girls like Sirantou in school by building safe schools near their homes, by working with villages to encourage parents to let girls continue their education, and by providing targeted supported to address specific schooling challenges for girls.