Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - "The first challenge is to improve the training of our teachers and then to review our teaching programs so that the education offered to students is adapted to the reality of our country", says the Commissioner for Catholic Education, Father Edmond Dembelé, at the opening of the second National Forum on Catholic Education, which will be held from 17 to 21 September, on the theme "Catholic education in Mali today: what are the prospects for safeguarding its identity and remaining at the service of the population?".
The aim of this forum is to sensitize other educational institutions to the identity of Catholic education in Mali and to harmonize the relationships between the different actors at national, diocesan and local levels in the parishes. Ultimately, the capacity of Catholic schools should be strengthened so that they can contribute more actively and effectively to improving school education and combating illiteracy and unemployment. The Catholic education system includes a total of 138 institutions with more than 40,000 students. These institutions include three colleges and universities, five technical institutes and vocational schools, 23 kindergartens and 102 primary schools. Private Catholic education in Mali employs 1,645 teachers. The first missionaries who came to Mali in 1888 also saw educational work as an instrument of evangelization and development and opened the first Catholic schools in 1889. After independence, on September 22, 1960, the Malian state officially recognized the contribution of the Catholic Church in the field of education. State and church signed an agreement in which the state committed itself to helping the church pay the salaries of its teachers by providing subsidies for Catholic education. This agreement is still in effect today. In 2010, a review of the development of Catholic schools in Mali was to take place for the first time and a look into the future in order to maintain and strengthen the quality of teaching. For this purpose, the first national forum for Catholic education was finally held in September 2013 at the Saint Augustin seminary in Samaya (Bamako). Numerous actors and partners from Catholic schools in Mali took part in this forum. One of the recommendations of this meeting was to hold a National Forum every ten years. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/9/2023)