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    NewsAfricaThe difficult road to social justice in Mali without universal access to education

    The difficult road to social justice in Mali without universal access to education

    Every February 20, the United Nations Organization (UN) celebrates the World Day of Social Justice, whose purpose is to promote actions aimed at raising awareness among the population about respect for human rights, the eradication of poverty, the parity between the sexes and access to quality education.

    The social justice paradigm, which transcends the traditional concept of legal justice, is based on the notion of equality as the promotion of the rights and obligations of individuals in an objective, equitable and impartial manner. Its basic principles constitute the germ to achieve world prosperity and advocate, among others, free access to the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, equal opportunities, the defense of respect and human dignity and the protection of education as development vector.

    Since 2012, Mali has been going through a serious multi-level crisis aggravated by insecurity, political and institutional instability, and decentralization, which affects all economic and social sectors, although the education sector is particularly affected. According to Unicef, this crisis has forced thousands of minors between the ages of five and 17 to lack access to basic education, especially in the north of the country, where violent jihadism is spreading out of control, forcing the internal displacement of the population and the massive closure of schools.

    Jihadists use school chairs and desks as fuel for bonfires

    towards religious teaching

    Faced with this situation, the current transitional government has indicated precise instructions for the displaced student body to be welcomed unconditionally and free of charge in other public or private educational institutions scattered throughout the country. However, this measure has, in turn, caused an unparalleled overcrowding in classrooms, has aggravated the shortage of qualified teaching staff and has favored the emergence of the enormous difficulties associated with the management of educational centers. Although these phenomena already existed indisputably before the current crisis, multiplying in rural and peri-urban areas, latent insecurity has legitimized these structural deficiencies and has paved the way for religious education, especially in primary education.

    It is suspected that the expansion of Koranic schools will increase the indoctrination of future generations

    According to the guidelines promulgated in Mali’s law number 2022-010 of June 3, 2022, the so-called renewed Koranic schools or centers have been created, in which, in addition to teaching the Koran, a complementary education is given that gives access to regulated training in state vocational training centers and institutions. The expansion of this type of educational centers in the northern regions aims to alleviate the pressing needs for schooling that the country suffers, although it is suspected that they could be used as indoctrination centers for future generations under the protection of impunity and reigning chaos.

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    Household poverty, lack of resources and unsafe school environments are just some of the causes behind Mali’s high out-of-school rates. Currently, according to the Global Education Cluster report, at least 40% of school-age minors lack access to formal education, which favors the lack of protection and inequities that are increasing and that the violation of rights promoted from the framework of social justice is a constant. Therefore, social justice cannot be understood without universal access to education, since both are the key to achieving social well-being.

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