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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

EiE Crisis Spotlight: Mali

Last updated: April 2014


Location of Crisis

Mali: north and across the country


Timing of Crisis

After decades of instability in the north of Mali, a military coup d’état in Bamako in March 2012, followed by Tuareg rebels controlling the north in April 2012, led the country to a grave political crisis, which drove thousands of people to flee their homes. Following the establishment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali and the presidential elections of July 2013, the situation stabilized bit by by. According to UNHCR and IOM, refugees and IDPs are returning to their homes. This political crisis compounded rampant and chronic poverty, the nutritional and food security crises that hit Mali after the 2011 drought, and disasters related to seasonal floods such as those that took place in Kidal and Ségou and between 9 and 12 August and in early September 2013 in Bamako.

Affected Populations

UNICEF estimates that this complex emergency disrupted education for 800,000 children in Mali, while more than 343,000 people were internally displaced in their own country in July 2013. The Malian crisis has also affected neighboring countries: 175,000 people fled to Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mauritania; the majority of those arriving in refugee camps are women and children according to UNHCR.

Everyday citizens caught up in the midst of conflict
In Mali, the conflict has compounded the vulnerability of affected populations. One OCHA report published in August 2013 indicates that the majority of the population in Gao, Timbuktu, and certain parts of Mopti were moderately or seriously affected by food insecurity. According to IRIN, humanitarians were worried that the spontaneous return of 8,148 people in the northern regions on June 25 and July 12 could increase the already high malnutrition rates. At the beginning of September 2013, UNICEF estimated that 10,000 children were affected by floods in Bamako. Furthermore, according to OCHA, the floods in the Kidal and Ségou regions affected nearly 11,300 people.

Brief Description of the Situation

Since 1962 and the first Tuareg rebellion, northern Mali has suffered unrest and armed conflict. On 22 March 2012, soldiers who were dissatisfied with the resources allocated to the army to fight against the rebels and Islamist groups in the north overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure during a military coup in Bamako. Taking advantage of the chaos, the Tuareg rebels of the Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) and the Salafist movement Ançar Dine took control of northern Mali one week later and instituted Sharia law.

At the end of January 2013, French and Malian military troops took control of the northern cities. In April 2013, MINUSMA was established. 28 July, presidential elections took place without incident. Although the situation is stabilizing in Mali and refugees are returning home, clashes have led hundreds of thousands of people to flee inside the country or in neighboring countries.


Impact on Education

The July 2013 UNICEF report estimates that 800,000 school-aged children were affected by the conflict, in addition to the 1.2 million children that were already out of school before the events of 2012. The reopening of schools was slowed by the persistent insecurity in the regions of Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal, and North Mopti and by the absence of teachers and limited access to these regions.

Reuters ©
Malian children run home from school after hearing explosions and gunfire in Gao.
Accelerated programs, which allow students to finish the school year, have been proposed in around half of schools in the Gao and Timbuktu regions. The priorities of the Education Cluster are to supply school materials and training on education in emergencies to 12,500 teachers and 2,500 headteachers, but the lack of funds is slowing such activities. 2,500 schools need support welcoming pupils, with equipment, and school cafeterias.

In July 2013, a back to school campaign was officially launched by the Malian Ministry of Education and UNICEF. Under the direction of the Malian government and through partnership collaboration, UNICEF is mobilizing teachers and parents to get children back to school. In Mali, around 9,000 teachers are benefitting from a training running throughout the 2013-2014 school year. Moreover, temporary learning spaces will be put in place and renovations undertaken on damaged schools. Nearly 5,000 students are benefiting from new benches as part of these renovations.


Education Actors Responding to the Crisis

The following education actors are currently providing an education response to the crisis:


Needs and Challenges

Below are the three specific objectives from the 2013 intervention plan of the Education Cluster:

  • For the 2012 academic year, ensure access to quality basic education and support 700,000 crisis-affected children, especially the most vulnerable through a differentiated approach between the south and north
  • Ameliorate the learning environment and the wellbeing of crisis-affected children while taking into consideration crosscutting themes
  • Strengthen coordination mechanism and the capacities of the education sector to deal with emergencies.

According to the OCHA 2013 Mali mid-year review, despite significant progress made by the Education Cluster, there are still many challenges.

Access to quality education for 44% of out-of-school children in the south and 51% in the north is influenced by the opening of schools (only 26% are functioning), the presence of teachers (only 41% are present), school cafeterias (only ⅓ of establishments have a canteen), and the improvement of security conditions in the north.

The lack of teaching supplies and the presence of explosives in certain establishments also endanger the learning environment.

Furthermore, the capacities of education sector management have been further weakened by looting and the damage to facilities. Local communities have little means for participating in school facility management and to encourage vulnerable groups to go to school.

Finally, the lack of financing on one hand, and the fact that the funds have not yet been received in a timely manner on the other, are hampering interventions on the ground. According to the 2013 UN global appeal for Mali, the financial needs of the education sector were 21,552,538 USD, of which only 11% were covered by August 2013.


Tools and Resources

The following key INEE resources in English and French can be used to support EiE efforts in Mali:

Key Information Sources

Key Words

rebels, conflict, IDPs, refugees, access to quality education


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