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Bamakoni Pilot Partnership
February 10, 2011 - Education and Literacy

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One of the unique benefits of foundation work is the ability to convene partnerships and people around a particular issue or need. In 2010, EGCF, in partnership with another foundation in Utah, brought together two organizations who were working in the same parts of Mali, with goals that both foundations felt were complimentary. The two organizations, The Ouelessebougou Alliance, (the Alliance) of Utah and buildOn, based in Stamford, Connecticut, are different organizations in many ways, but they both saw an opportunity to explore a partnership together in the Ouelssebougou region of Mali. EGCF valued the opportunity to form a pilot project with these two organizations that resulted in a new school in the village of Bamakoni.

The village of Bamakoni is a small community in southern Mali with a population of approximately 650 people who are primarily uneducated and illiterate. Their livelihood consists of subsistence farming and animal breeding.

The existing school in Bamakoni was donated by the Alliance in 2001. It had 3 classrooms. When enrollment climbed to 140 students in 2008, the Bamakoni built an additional two mud brick classrooms. These 5 classrooms were being used by 6 teachers and 140 students (67 girls) as recently as spring 2010. The mud brick classrooms were not sufficient, and the Alliance classrooms were only in fair condition. The next nearest school is 6 km from Bamakoni, and the road is not passable in the rainy season. The village needed a more adequate school for their growing population of school-aged children.

Building schools is just one of the things that buildOn does best. Despite the fact that Bamkoni is 90 km from the river, the community had collected a large quantity of local materials (sand and gravel) for the new school building before they began construction with buildOn and the Alliance in May 2010. The villagers were anxious to break ground on the school, since they knew it would motivate more children to attend and more parents to send their children to school. The Bamakoni buildOn school was completed 20 days ahead of schedule with 1,513 volunteer work days. It officially broke ground on March 29th, and construction ended on May 27th. After the plaster fully cured and dried, the school was painted; it was officially finished on June 23rd.

Meanwhile, buildOn Education Officers are working with the community through their adult Community Education Program (CEP), which began in January 2011. The Alliance is working with the Bamakoni on economic development possibilities. The Alliance promotes the idea of economic development and education working together in its villages. The six teachers who work at the Bamakoni school live in the village and are paid by the village and the Mali government. The Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance provides annual training to the teachers as well as quarterly evaluations.

EGCF was proud to partner on this pilot project. The results are very positive and are indicative of the kind of outcomes that collaboration between non-profits can yield. For more information on our partners in this project please visit www.lifteachother.org and www.buildon.org.