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Children's Learning in Mali During COVID-19

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Education

In 2020, COVID-19 led to the closure of all schools in Mali, putting children at risk of falling behind with their studies.

To help students catch up with their lessons, Plan International, through the Irish Aid-funded EQuIP project, initiated a radio listening programme covering the Timbuktu area.

At schools across the region, student clubs have been set up to allow pupils to listen to radio lessons which are broadcast three times a week.

Lessons are broadcast in the morning, on subjects ranging from mathematics, to French and literacy. Under the supervision of the Ministry of Education’s regional services, students, teachers and school principals all collaborated together on the project, from its conception to the production of the radio programmes.

“The children made the programmes with their teachers; they contributed to the lessons and made suggestions to the teachers when their explanations are difficult to understand. A WhatsApp group was also created and head teachers made observations and recommendations to improve the content,” explains Abdoulaye Alhousseini, head teacher of one of the schools taking part in the project.

11-year-old Rahmata is a keen member of her school’s listening club. Like thousands of children, the school closures affected her. “When schools were closed, I couldn’t go to school anymore or see my friends; it really disrupted my year. At home, I couldn’t study because I had to help with the household chores like washing dishes, doing laundry and sweeping the yard.”

When the radio sets arrived at her school, Rahmata was quick to join her club to follow the lessons on the radio. The children listen to the classes broadcast on the radio and then complete the exercises related to the lessons they have just heard.

“I enjoy following the lessons on the radio. It has helped me with my reading and to learn French. With my brothers, we review what we have learnt at night through the radio and then do our maths and French homework together. It’s very interesting and we learn a lot,” says Rahmata who hopes to become an accountant and work in a bank.