Spotlight on ENDA Mali:
Child Participation and Effective Organization Create Successful Functional Literacy Centers
July 2006. Sibila is one of 15 villages that has benefited from the support of the child functional literacy program created by CIRCLE partner ENDA.

Figure 1. Blackboard used in functional literacy center.
Although a primary school exists for the smaller children of Sibila, until recently, there has been little educational support within the village for older or out-of-school children. ENDA has created a functional literacy center that has become an attraction point for these hard-to-reach children.

This center has exceeded its original target registration by over 100%! Presently, 112 children have registered in the two years of project implementation (2004-2006). ENDA staff anticipated 25 children for their last functional literacy session, but 77 children attended!

These results are the fruit of hard work; the center is managed by Djènèba Traoré, the only female amongst nine other male teachers. She organized the registered children using a system based on traditional social structure. Utilizing a participatory approach, the children elected their own "village chief" and "counsellors", while others assigned themselves to different tasks, like accounting and event planning.

Since then, the children have initiated a small account to save for their school fees. Income is generated for this account from gardening activities: the products are directly sold to the community. These children also participate in improving the quality of their own education, as they have developed rules for a Code of Conduct, by which each child must abide. (Rules include: regular attendance, avoiding coming late to class, respecting the teacher, mutual respect amongst themselves, and avoiding unjustified absences). Anyone caught violating these rules must pay a pack of candies or depositing the equivalent amount into the savings account!

In addition to the children's effort, the School Management Committee in Sibila supervises the proper functioning of the center. They help ENDA also create plays; the most recent of which, men, women and children in Sibila expressed their interest in education and their rejection of child exploitation or abuse.

ENDA is proud of this initiative; Sibila is proving that functional literacy is a real alternative to child labor.