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Mali InfoDevrapport

MALI

Overview

Mali has a national policy and strategic plan for ICT, administered through the Information and Communications Technology Agency (AGETIC). One of its missions is to set up an empowering environment for the promotion and use of ICT in education and capacity building for the formal and non-formal sectors. Though certain challenges obstacles persist -- such as a very low level of development of the telephone networks and no direct access to an Internet backbone -- a number of actors, including the Ministry of Education, local and international public and private partnerships, and many others, remain committed to enhancing Mali's education system. Notable Initiatives in the formal system include a university intranet, the Nepad e-Schools Demo project, Internet in schools, SchoolNet Mali and, in non formal education, the UNESCO Community Multimedia Centre Scale-Up Project which enables ICT access for villages.

The Malian government's commitment to fuse the education system with the technological innovations available today will prove to be a boost for Mali's education system. The main constraints to adapting schools to ICT use stem from the slow development of infrastructure and the high cost of ICT materials.

Country Profile

Mali is a landlocked West African country with a surface area of 1.24 million square kilometers and a population of about 13.5 million people, 73% of which live in rural areas. The population density is very disproportionate, from 90 people per square kilometer in the Niger central delta to less than five people per square kilometer in the north Saharan region. A former French colony, Mali (Sudan Republic) became independent in 1960. Its capital is Bamako (population: 840,000). It shares its borders with Mauritania and Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the southwest, and Senegal on the east. The highest point is Hombori Tondo in the central region of the country.

The Education System

As in other countries of the francophone world, the Malian educational system inherited most of its principles from the French colonial system. Yet, since independence, it has undergone a set of reforms to meet the needs of the local population. The Ministry of Education is responsible for governing the whole system and implementing the policy of the government. Instruction is given in French. A normal school year runs from September to June. Fundamental education encompasses nine grades, divided into two cycles. Grades 1 through 6 make up the first cycle. In the sixth grade all the students sit for the C.E.P., which leads to the second cycle: Grades 7 through 9 (junior high school). In the last grade of the second cycle, the students take a nationwide exam called the Diplôme d'Etudes Fondamentales (D.E.F.) that leads to high school or vocational and technical school. Secondary education (senior high school) comprises Grade 10 through 12. All Grade 12 students sit for the baccalaureate exam (high school diploma) in biology, math/physics, human sciences, or language and literature. With the baccalaureate the students can enroll at the University of Mali or apply for universities abroad. The baccalaureate is a very selective examination for the students. Students who do not envision completing long-term study programs can enter two- to four year public/private technical and vocational schools, which are all recognized by the Ministry of Education. Two-year vocational and technical schools offer the Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) and the four-year schools offer the Brevet de Technicien (BT). Non-formal education consists of adult literacy and education centers for development (CEDs).

In Mali, the education sector has always been considered as a priority because of its impact on development, which is why the proportion of the national budget devoted to education has noticeably increased in the last few years, from 26.62% in 2001 to 30.6% in 2004.4: The Ten-Year Education Development Program (PRODEC), signed in 1999, is regarded as the Malian government's commitment to fund all its education systems. It is based on the strengths and weaknesses of the system in terms of accessibility, quality, and management. It applies to all levels of formal education (primary, secondary, and higher education).

Infrastructure

Mali's telephone network is at a very low level of development. The development of its telecommunication infrastructure is mostly in the urban areas with 69.9% of all lines in the biggest cities. Its telephone density (telephones per hundred people) in urban areas is 1.78, compared to 0.08 for the rest of the country. Internet in Mali is limited because there is no direct access to a backbone (because there is no sea access). Therefore, Mali must negotiate its access to international telecommunication networks with the neighboring nations of Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. Thus, there are two main international channels for Malian telecommunication networks. The first one goes from Senegal to Bamako via Kayes. On this route, Ikatel has laid an optical fiber, whereas Sotelma uses a high-tension electric cable. The second channel goes from Côte d'Ivoire to Bamako via Sikasso, passing through Burkina Faso. On this route, Sotelma invested FCFA7 billion in optical fiber in May 2004.

ICTs in Education

ICT is introduced as a school subject in the first years of primary level in order to enable Mali to face the challenges of the technology revolution. In addition, the government of Mali will be taking some legal and statutory incentive measures to increase e the cyber cafés and Internet usage. In so doing, young Malians will have more opportunities to communicate and exchange with other youth around the world. Noticeably, USAID has invested over a billion CFA francs to interconnect 10 sites of the University of Bamako.

Cyber Edu:

The Ministry of Communication and New Technology and the Ministry of National Education have initiated an education cyberspace project called Cyber Edu, which provides some facilities for the teachers and the school managers to collect virtual educational resources for improving their professional activities. In Bamako, two school groups. Mamadou Konate and Kalaban Coura have benefited from this project with computer labs equipped with 15 to 30 computers. This project involves 10 school groups and three Schoolmasters Training Institutes (IFM) in the regions of Sikasso and Mopti and in the District of Bamako. It will enable teachers to seek further information that can enhance and enrich their lessons, and it also help better manage human resources and school materials. Mali's partners from the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland support the project's accomplishment.

School Net Mali:

Through this project, USAID has equipped certain Malian high schools with computer materials, thus giving students a chance to enjoy a first contact with a computer. SchoolNet Mali stems from co-operation between the Mokoya Juru Association and SchoolNet Africa. The objectives of SchoolNet Mali are to: Equip schools with computers; train teachers and students on how to use the computers; convince people that new technology and its uses are at their reach; set up the bases of systematic exchange between Malian educators and those around the world; and integrate new and renewable energies in the school system. Strategic partners of SchoolNet Mali are Global Teenagers Project (GTP)-Mali, iEARN International, and AMUL (Malian Association for Linux users).

Non-formal projects:

UNESCO, with support from the Italian government, is developing a pilot training program in ICT for those working in the areas of literacy and informal education. The objectives aim to: increase visibility of the non-formal education process with the help of ICT and enable those who work in literacy and non-formal education to take advantage of ICT possibilities, especially to produce and exchange information across electronic networks.

Current ICT Initiatives and Projects

Project: Classroom connections

Ensured the installation of a line connection in a high school classroom through Sotelma. This enabled a connection to Internet as well as the necessary technical installations to make sure that the computers function properly.

· Organization(s): The Department of Communication and Technology

Project: TOGUNET

Network for exchanging and sharing information among ICT users for development in Mali. TOGUNET currently has nearly 200 subscribers or members. 

Project: PNUD (United Nation Program for Development) and CEA (Economic Commission for

Africa) help Mali develop a cyber strategy.

Project: Teacher training On-line

· Organization(s): University of Montreal in Canada and the International Institute for Capacity-Building in Africa (IIRCA). 

Project: ROCARE 

Works with some local schools to carry out case studies in order to better understand the conditions that favor a successful integration of ICT in the school environment

· Organization(s): Mamadou Goundo Simaga science department; Kalanso “espace éducatif”; Le Progrès; Danzie Kone High School of Koutiala; “La Lumière” High School

·  Funding source: IDRC and the University of Montreal

Project: Afribone

Private Malian organization founded in 1999 that offers innovative services such as Internet connection and training sessions related to ICT development in Mali to regular customers. After completing a survey of Malian companies, and considering the needs of agents as well as managers, Afribone is in a position to provide training in a wide range of subjects. 

Project: CMC Scale-Up Project

Major asset to the informal education sector and makes ICT accessible to community members. Currently there are 23 CMCs where people can access computers, printers, community radio, digital devices, and other services.

· Organization(s): The UNESCO Community Multimedia Centre (CMC)

·  For more information: www.unesco.org/webworld/cmc

Project: The Community of Learning and Information Centre (CLIC)

Sets up and supervises centers for access to ICT, conceives and presents training modules, designs and installs networks, and follows up on and evaluates programs.

· Organization(s): Afriklinks

·  Funding source: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Project: USAID

Supports 13 pilot community-of-learning and information centers, which offer access to the Internet, e-mail, CD-Roms, video programming, and general computer use to potentially over 450,000 Malians in local communities.

·  For more information: www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/countries/mali/ 

Project: The NEPAD e-Schools Initiative

Schools will be provided with the necessary infrastructure and ICT equipment. They will also have teachers that are appropriately trained and who will have access to appropriate applications and digital content to ensure that ICTs play a meaningful role in enhancing education and health conditions on the African continent. Six schools in Mali are currently participating in the demonstration phases of the initiative.

· Organization(s): e-Africa Commission, the special task team of NEPAD responsible for the structured development of the ICT sector on the African continent.

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