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14 April 2014
Zeynabou Kane

Education under attack: Mali

Some 130 schools were looted, destroyed or used by armed groups and government forces during fighting in the north of the country, notably in 2012 and early 2013.The conflict caused widespread disruption of education


Conflict erupted in northern Mali in early 2012 when Tuareg insurgents began pushing for autonomy. A military coup in March undermined the government’s response to the conflict, leading to considerable political instability,1042 and by April the armed groups had consolidated control over the northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. The Tuaregs drove the Malian army out of the north in April 2012, formed an alliance with armed Islamist groups – Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa – and declared the area to be an Islamic state. Ansar Dine began imposing strict Sharia law and the armed Islamist groups soon turned on their Tuareg allies, taking control of most of northern Mali’s cities.In January 2013, after the armed Islamists launched an offensive southward, the Malian government asked France for assistance in driving back the armed groups. Within several months, the joint efforts of the French, Malians and other African troops had largely cleared the Islamists from their strongholds. The armed conflict in the north caused hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee, including most teachers and school administrators, and temporarily reversed gains in education access and quality. In February 2013, 86 per cent of pupils remaining in the north were still without education.1047 By October 2013, tens of thousands of civilians had returned to the northern regions but the conflict, large-scale displacement and the accompanying disruption of schooling adversely affected education for hundreds of thousands of children.1048 In 2011, net primary enrolment was 71 per cent, net secondary enrolment was 34 per cent and gross tertiary enrolment was 7 per cent.1049 Approximately 31 per cent of adults were literate.

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