October 21, 2016

Nutrition, Literacy Show Gains in Mali

Food for Education school feeding program makes improvements for children

U.S. Ambassador Paul Folmsbee and the Malian Minister of Education take part in ceremonies launching the project at the start of the academic school year. (USAID Mali photo)

It has been less than one year, and EDC is already seeing gains from a program aimed at both improving nutrition and expanding education in Mali. Part of a five-year, $30 million effort, the Mali Food For Education (FFE) program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), with support from the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program and the Malian government.

FFE in Mali works to reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education, especially for girls. Such school feeding programs not only encourage children to enroll in and attend school regularly, they also provide healthy meals, improving children’s ability to learn.

EDC provides early-grade reading instruction in rural areas of the Koulikoro and Mopti regions, using its Read Right Now! (RRN!) literacy program. Participants and educators have found the RRN! interactive audio instruction lessons especially effective.  

“The advent of radio as a learning tool has not gone unnoticed as a viable teaching method, and it has even improved student attendance. Students are on time for the programs,” said Moussa Garango, director of Ecole de Logoa Bankass. “Very quickly, they learned the alphabet, and they know the names and sounds of the letters. They like the programs.”

The program, now in its third phase, has been credited with improving school enrollment and retention as well as students’ academic performance. Assessments show that more than 12,000 children have seen a 60-point increase in letter recognition and a nearly 30-point increase in their ability to write.

“The level of community support for teachers and students has been striking,” says EDC’s Carrie Lewis. “Communities are taking the initiative to support schools because they see results, and CRS has been very supportive, working with us to ensure that the government is a true partner in this endeavor.”

Learn more about EDC’s programs to improve literacy.