Meet Youssouf, a fourteen-year-old boy attending school in Kolimba, Mali. Youssouf attends the eighth grade and in very excited about the new Mali Rising school in his village.
Youssouf says, "When the middle school was open in our village, there were no classrooms. [Some students] were put in hangars constructed with mud. These classes are fragile and made of very dirty straw that we cannot imagine. When our classrooms will be built...we will have the opportunity to study in good conditions."
Youssouf explains that he is "better than his friends at natural sciences" and that he loves football and men's hairdressing when not in class. When he grows up, Youssouf says, "I want to be a great farmer."
Farming is the largest sector of Mali's economy. Although much of the farming is focused on subsistence crops for use by a farmer's family, peanuts, maize and - most importantly - cotton are among the cash crops raised. Livestock production is also very important.
So being a great farmer is a great goal. Youssouf can use his education to learn about new agricultural techniques, soil health, and more as he takes on farming.