How does a political crisis or violent fighting within a country affect education?
For Mali, a political crisis has meant the displacement of over 700,000 students and teachers, the destruction and closing of at least 115 schools, and a large psychological impact on students from exposure to violence that must be addressed.
The political crisis in Mali began over a year ago. It puts the Mali government against Tuareg rebels and has resulted in the uprooting of a large number of residents from northern Mali and has pushed them southward, out of harms way. This uprooting has forced many children to find new schools to attend. It has also pushed teachers into finding new schools to teach in. While 500,000 out of the original 700,000 students have found new schools to attend since being displaced, there is still “an urgent need to rebuild schools, train teachers and provide learning supplies,” according to a statement made by UNICEF. This is because many of these news schools were already facing issues with overcrowding are now operating beyond their capacities, and finding themselves unable to cope with the displayed northerners.
Malian educational authorities are working with UNICEF officials to quickly open up more schools in northern Mali. Over 1,100 Malian teachers have been trained to provide psychological support to students, as well as mine-risk education, since December. This is a big necessity because, as put by UNICEF Representative Françoise Ackermans, “when a teacher is afraid to teach and when a student is afraid to go to school, the whole education is at risk.”
Yet, education will continue to be negatively affected as long as violence progresses in the area. As of today, Mali is still highly volatile, making even walking to school dangerous. Political crises and violent fighting between two groups within a country have very serious effects on its citizens, creating far-reaching consequences. Ensuring children have access to schools ensures these children have access to knowledge, an important asset to all.
– Angela Hooks