Celebrate this Mothers' Day by helping West African moms secure an education for their children!
We’re starting a seven-week preschool summer camp in rural Mali. By providing teacher training and a classroom curriculum, the project supports aspiring women teachers and boosts essential early childhood education programs.
Our organization, A Place in the Sun Foundation, Inc., works to improve childhood literacy in West Africa. Over the past year and a half, our team has developed a curriculum and a teacher training course, tailored to rural preschool teachers and their students.
This camp will serve as a pilot program for a permanent preschool in Mali. We’ll test out our training programs and curriculum on the ground. Then we’ll evaluate the success of the programs using top-notch metrics. Soon after, we’ll raise the funds to start a year-round school.
Today, only 33% of adults can read and write in Mali. That’s the lowest literacy rate in the world.
Illiteracy stunts opportunity for promising students in West Africa. Entire communities are held back from accessing information and jobs that could lift them out of poverty. As a result, nearly half of Mali still lives on 85 cents a day.
Simply being able to read and write would empower the next generation of Malians to build up their local communities. It’s a cheap and effective solution—and it will serve as an investment in solving an expensive and dangerous problem.
“Preschool” might remind you of naps, picture books and Play-Doh, but there’s some important science to it. Essential brain development happen in preschool, and as President Obama mentioned during his State of the Union address, it’s linked to economic growth decades down the line. By lacking preschool education, Malian kids are behind their global peers—even at age 4—and from there, only fall further behind.
Making matters tougher, kids in Mali are hindered by a language barrier between their first language and the national language of instruction. Instead of receiving instruction in Bambara (the language most commonly spoken at home) students immediately begin learning in French. Without an academic foundation in their first language, many students fail to make the transition to French language and miss out on learning the content they will need to pass national exams and succeed in school.
A Place in the Sun Foundation's curriculum addresses this core problem by teaching children lessons in their local language--Bambara--which is critical first step to literacy development. Children are also given lessons in French, which will help them transition to primary school with greater success.
To begin, we are launching our inaugural pilot project in the village of Touna, in central Mali. Over the course of seven weeks this July and August, we will work with 5 young women who are aspiring women preschool teachers. These women will then work with a classroom of 15-20 preschool students in a training program led by two experienced A Place in the Sun volunteers, Kate Needham and Abdourahamane Doucouré.
Touna, a small village located about 65 km from the regional capital of Segou, has a population of around 2,000 people. From 2010 to 2011, A Place in the Sun Foundation's Curriculum Director, Kate Needham, served as a seventh grade literacy teacher in Touna.
Through testing various training techniques and teaching models, this pilot program will help us to further improve and refine our training courses and curriculum.
About a Place in the Sun Foundation
A Place in the Sun Foundation, Inc. was started by Peace Corps Volunteers Mike and Marisa Conway, who served together in Mali from 2009 to 2011. Our organization seeks to improve the quality of education in rural West African communities so that children can learn to read and succeed in school. Our team of a dozen volunteers has spent the past fifteen months developing an early childhood education curriculum and teacher training model that is designed specifically for Malian children ages 3-6. This pilot is the first step in a strategy to engage with communities throughout Mali to identify challenges to quality education and devise solutions with community leaders. In the next five years, A Place in the Sun Foundation hopes to establish multiple clusters of early learning centers throughout Mali.
Please join us in putting children on the right path to a quality education by making a donation to our campaign.
A Place in the Sun is a 501(c)(3) pending non-profit organization. 100% of your donations go directly toward our pilot preschool program in Touna, Mali.
We've minimized costs by working through our Malian networks so that our total project budget is only $9599 (see below). Thanks to other fundraising initiatives, we will be able to launch the pilot upon reaching our $5100 tipping point.