Literacy Games Motivate Children to Return to School

Friday, April 24, 2020
Ladji proudly showing the alphabet letters he wrote

Thanks to the community participation activities of the USAID/Mali SIRA project, the children of Bougoula are motivated to go to school

Bougoula is a village in Sanankoroba (Southern Mali). In the past, children in this community did not like school, and they were not encouraged by their parents to attend school. School dropout was very common.

USAID-funded Mali Selective Integrated Reading Activity (USAID/Mali SIRA) intervened in this village at the beginning of the 2019 school year. The project implemented awareness-raising activities through general assemblies, home visits and literacy games in order to further increase parents and members of community-based organizations’ involvement in the education of first and second graders.

Ladji Coulibaly, a 7-year old first grader, dropped out of school in the first month of the school year. He began by sitting in on the literacy games and gradually started participating in them. This gave him the desire to learn more. As a result, he went back to school on his own without any pressure. Fousseyni Coulibaly, Ladji's father, is very surprised: "At first, I was indifferent to him dropping out of school. Through SIRA's awareness raising activities, I tried in vain to advise him to go back. I had almost given up on trying, when one day I was surprised to see Ladji leave for school. I couldn't believe it at all.”

Ladji describes what motivated him: "A man (the project’s community facilitator) regularly plays with the children near the house. To take part in these games, you must either be a first or second grader. I had to go back to school right away so I wouldn't be excluded from these games, which I really like". Fousseyni, his father, is delighted with the situation: "These games came at the right time for us here. I could not think of any other way to motivate my child to go back to school.”

Thus, several children regularly followed Ladji to school so that they could take part in the literacy games. Other students who were disappointed because they were too old to enroll in school still seized the opportunity to sit in on the games and learn with their peers. "Despite the teachers’ strikes, the literacy games have enabled many of our first and second graders to master the alphabets and a few syllables", explains Chaka Traoré, School Director of Bougoula.

Parents are delighted with the arrival of this USAID funded project, especially because its awareness-raising activities enabled them to learn what their role in educating their children should be. They feel that these children learn differently without pressure. "We see that most of our children know the letters as a result of the literacy games and the alphabet song in particular. We must all encourage the use of these literacy games because they enable our children to learn easily, while having fun, outside the classroom", added Amadou Coulibaly, parent of one of the children.

Launched in 2016 for five years, the USAID/Mali SIRA project has improved the teaching and learning of reading and writing in Bamanankan—a local language in Mali. Through its Community Participation Component—which has benefitted approximately 527,211 grade one and two students in Bamako, Sikasso, Segou and Koulikoro—the project aims to strengthen the involvement of parents, communities and private partners.

Last updated: September 11, 2020

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