Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ecole a Classe Unique - Multi-age classrooms in Mali

One of the aspects of my work with PHARE involves continued support and evaluation of the multi-age classroom initiative (Ecole a Classe Unique - ECU).  The 35 ECU teachers have now received two trainings on how to manage their multi-age classrooms as well as a trunk of ECU materials.  Now it is time for an evaluation to see how the program is really working on the field and make sure those materials haven't been dropped off in a sand dune in the Sahara desert or traded for tea and sugar. 

The villages where ECUs are established are Isolated - yes, that's with a capital I.  Remote populations off the beaten path (literally).  The ones we've visited thus far in the Sevare region are only accessible by boat during the rainy season and until the rains dry up afterward (usually in January).  These are truly kids who, if there was not an ECU in their village, would never have the chance to go to school.  Pretty powerful stuff if you ask me.    

For the past few days and the upcoming week PHARE staff and Ministry officials are traveling all over the country - from Bamako to Kidal (let me tell you - that's a lot of ground to cover) - to visit all 35 ECUs.  I'm tagging along to get photos and video footage of the action.  Here's some of what we've seen the past couple days:
a multi-age classroomin in the Sevare region.  the black trunk at left is from PHARE and the village constructed the walls of the classroom in a shady clearing next to the chief's home.  this particular village was in love with their teacher.                 "don't let him go back to mopti/sevare where he'll find a wife and never come back - he's too good to lose!!" the chief said.
working on a language arts lesson
Sugu in bambara means market

using old bottles for a math lesson to see if 2 small bottles equals the one large  bottle at left  

  Newly circumcised boys staying in an initiation hut by the river
A Bozo (one of the 12 main ethnic groups in Mali) fisherman village - these are isolated villages! 
What I have seen thus far is encouraging.  The kids are reading and writing with relative ease - a big deal for a Malian student - and even expressing their creativity and imaginations - something else you don't often see here.  

Do you have any questions you have about the ECU program?  I'd love to hear them so I can address them later!


Cassady Walters said...

Great work and great pictures!

Katie said...

I love the photos, Jeffner. You are doing some incredible work!

Marija said...

Chups, your photos get more and more beautiful - you have a real talent! I also really enjoy reading about your work :) thanks so much for sharing!

Manzo said...

My work with World Vision in remote areas of Mali, is helping the needy kids -like the ones you are helping- I am working with and for, getting a decent shot at life, including a decent education - that is not often a granted in Mali.

Rgizlaine said...

Amazing! I completely agree with the girls! Your pictures are getting more and more beautiful and remarkable!
I admire you sweetheart !!!

Jennifer said...

so many thanks ladies and sir! i'm loving the chance to get out and see where American taxpayer dollars are being distributed - and where education reform is really taking place! cute kids are easy to photograph - only problem is sometimes they move too quickly :)

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