3.8 million people are facing food insecurity in Mali. These data indicate a deterioration of the situation compared to last year, with nearly one million additional people in need this year. This report by the United Nations agency responsible for humanitarian actions coordination also reveals the deterioration of security in the center part of the country, which directly affects children’s access to school.
Over the past few months, education actors in the Mopti and Ségou regions have reported an increasing number of threats by armed individuals calling for the closure of schools and acts of banditry against teachers or schools.
According to data from «Education Cluster”, the Mopti region alone has 270 schools currently closed and new municipalities, Mopti, Djenné and Douentza, are henceforth affected by the phenomenon. In the regions of Northern Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, however, the number of closed schools has stabilized. Throughout the country, in March 2017, more than 500 schools are closed in regions affected by insecurity. According to “Education Cluster”, about 150,000 children are out-of-school or school leavers because of these school closures. In addition, about 1,630 teachers are absent in areas affected by insecurity.
Despite the extent of the needs, the response capacity of humanitarian partners is greatly limited due to lack of resources.
The pledge of US$35 million to support humanitarian response in the education sector in 2017 has not received any confirmed funding, according to data reported to the OCHA Financial Tracking Service. While several schools remain closed in the north and center, the collective of teachers of the regions of the North continues its unlimited strike launched since February 6th. They are demanding, among other things, compensation for teachers working in the North who are victims of the 2012 crisis.
The various attempts to negotiate with the authorities failed. The militants of the collective are today divided between supporters of the continuation of the strike and those in favor of a truce.
Social front: Strikes divided in the north
On strike for several weeks, teachers in the northern regions no longer speak the same language. According to Yeya Ibrahim Tandina, the Coordination Secretary-General of Community-based Teachers Union for Gao, “There was not too much progress on the negotiating points. We had first met Gao’s consultation framework, which had promised to meet with the authorities to quickly find a diligent solution to the problem. We gave them a month of observation. Unfortunately its members returned unanswered. We were then summoned to Bamako by the MPs’ from the North to meet with the outgoing minister of education. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet him. So we reported back during a general meeting. “
Tandina also explained «we told that the negotiations are at a standstill. A part of the base decided to continue the strike, another part (the majority) decided to suspend the order, to draw lessons, to reframe the struggle and to set another time. So we are in that logic. Finally, the Community-based Teachers Union decided to withdraw from the collective. In any case, we are far from the lull.