Plan helps girls to choose their education
In Mali, women represent 39% of 27% adult literacy rate (age 15 and above) and most of them finish their education only at 5th grade. This lack of education means a lack of opportunities and greater reliance on traditional family structures which include arranged marriages, often at a young age. The problem is even bigger in rural areas. In order to provide access to safe and violence- free education Plan Mali launched a literacy programme in 292 villages across Mali, such as Kinta.
Childhood in fear
Aminata (Ami) Damba grew up in a rural village of Kinta in central Mali. As a promising student, her teachers foretold that she will have a bright future. However, at the age of 14, according to local custom, she was ready for marriage, even against her will. Refusing a forced marriage, Ami, like many girls, run away to Bamako where she became a domestic servant. She was lucky to be treated fairly; many girls end up in worse conditions, being exploited, poor, desperate and left alone.
"I would have never been happy in marriage at a young age,”- said Ami. “My only regret is having to interrupt my studies."
Plan in action
Forced and early marriages deprive girls of education. Plan Mali is promoting literacy by helping young women to achieve basic education. Since 2002, Plan has supported a literacy programme in Kinta and now works in 292 communities across Mali. The programme targets people who have dropped out of school but now realize the value and the importance of continuing their education. In eight years, the programme has trained 217 students including 119 girls. Each year more than 1189 students are assisted in learning how to read, write and develop their life skills.
"Beyond a mere introduction to education, many of the students read fluently, write their own letters and learn to manage their accounts,"- comments Tahirou Sacko, a facilitator of the literacy center.
In 2009, Ami returned to her village and persuaded her family to annul arranged marriage. She is in a loving relationship approved by her family and is hoping to get married one day. Ami is benefiting from Plan Literacy Center where she is learning how to read, write and basic accounting. The center also teaches career skills to improve the livelihoods of students. Women are taught to develop their own businesses to earn additional income for the family.
Ami is learning how to make shea butter and soaps in order to sell it at the market. She is delighted with her future prospects, the opportunity to marry for love, loving family and financial stability.