A GROUP of Bahraini volunteers are set to open a new school in a rural village in Mali that will target around 90 children.
The micro-school concept spearheaded by the Bahrain Trust Foundation aims to provide basic education for children affected by conflicts, while also addressing the dangers of extremism, especially with Mali being high on the list of Western security concerns due to the presence of militant groups.
The school will have three classrooms operating for at least four hours a day/week with the presence of qualified teachers – all fully funded by the Bahrain group, which was set up in 2010 to promote education, health and economic empowerment locally and globally.
Bahrain Trust Foundation chairwoman Dr Fatima Al Balooshi said the micro-school concept has been the foundation’s most efficient initiative covering different countries, with the project costing between BD10,000 and BD15,000 depending on the number of classrooms and facilities.
“We have set up micro-schools in Egypt, India, Jordan and now plan to set up three classrooms in a village in Mali that will help around 90 children,” said Dr Al Balooshi, who served as Social Development Minister for 10 years.
“These schools are funded by Bahraini donors with the help of the society with an aim to provide a bright future to children.
“We have already allocated a budget for teachers’ salaries, in some cases for the entire year, and will monitor these schools during our visits or through co-operation with partners in those countries.”
The foundation has also supplied stationery and school uniforms, donated by individuals and institutions in Bahrain in support of the project.
“Our schools have helped refugees in Jordan and have helped children living in countries facing conflict,” added Dr Al Balooshi.
According to the foundation’s annual report, 386 children have benefited from the micro-schools and other projects, including the distribution of 150 computers and other equipment among schools in conflict zones and the training of 17 teachers in those countries.
Dr Al Balooshi revealed that plans were underway to open another school in Lebanon, while the foundation has received assistance request from Sudan.
“Our micro-school concept is being recognised now and we are receiving assistance requests to set them up in Lebanon and Sudan.”
She added that the foundation was also supporting a project to have a full-time teacher present at two children’s wings for terminally ill children in Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC).
“It’s difficult for these children, who are in two SMC wards, to continue with their education, but we have a full-time teacher to monitor their studies,” she explained.
According to the United Nations, approximately 836 million people still live at or below $1.25 per day.
Furthermore, illiteracy among young people is almost three times as high in countries hit by war or disaster, with women and girls worst affected.
The UN estimated that nearly three in 10 young people aged between 15 and 24 who live in countries afflicted by war or disaster are illiterate. One in four young people are unable to read in Sub-Saharan Africa and 33 million children are out of primary school, more than half all those in the world.