The Internet community in Timbuktu, Mali, has come up with a new IT project called ” Tombouctou” to support the academic system of a city under duress after the recent civil war.
The main aim of this US$1,000-project, which is being entirely financed by Malian web activists called Recam (The Association of Active Malian Citizens), is to offer a month of catch-up classes to end-of-year exam candidates from Timbuktu High School as well as to the student teachers from Timbuktu's Franco-Arabic teacher training institute Hégire of Timbuktu. These private classes are not only intended to help the beneficiaries with exam preparation, but also to enable a higher exam pass rate in a town which, just like all the other towns in the north of Mali, is dealing with a major security crisis.
What's more, students from Mahamane Alassane Haidara High School and the student teachers from Timbuktu's teacher training institute have experienced a rocky academic year, with classes being disrupted by numerous social movements such as strikes, teachers withholding marks and problems with diverted scholarships.
So during the month of classes, 200 students, of whom around 50 were girls, were able to benefit from private classes in mathematics, physics and philosophy. The gesture was welcomed by the school's administration and the beneficiaries, who were moved to see Malians outside of the education domain think of them and their futures by helping them to prepare the end-of-year exams for the students (teachers and the baccalaureate [A levels] for the high school students). One student told us:
Je promets de faire de mon mieux pour passer aux examens. C’est la seule manière de leur dire merci. Nous devons étudier, avoir des diplômes pour revenir servir notre pays. Le Mali a besoin de nous tous, grands comme petits.
I promise to do my best in the exams. This is the only way of saying thank you. We must study and have qualifications in order to go back and serve our country. Mali needs all of us, the rich and poor alike.
The headmaster of Mahamane Alassane Haidara High School in Timbuktu, Mr. Sidibé, stated via email:
Nous ne pouvons que remercier toute bonne volonté qui apporte son soutien pour l’éducation des enfants qui sont les futurs dirigeants du Mali de demain. Vraiment merci au ReCam.
We can only thank any goodwill which lends its support to the education of children who will go on to become tomorrow's leaders of Mali. With special thanks being given to Recam.
In wishing this venture a strong and prosperous future for the students, the Timbuktu education administration authorities have welcomed this effort and this act of generosity.