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Sightsavers Reports

“Mafoune is very dedicated to her studies”

November 2017
Mafoune and her teacher smiling and embracing in front of a classroom blackboard.

“I like geography, arithmetic and science but my favorite subject is history, because I like to talk to my father about what I have learned,” says 11-year-old Mafoune.

Mafoune is a happy and confident girl, but she wasn’t always like this. An inclusive education project in Mali has been life-changing for her, and had a huge impact on her family. As her father tells us: “Before the project she used to stay late at school to write what was left because she was slow in writing. She was much slower than the other children.

“We didn’t know that she had any low vision issues,” he continues. “It happened suddenly on one day, she came [home] accompanied by Mrs Keita who had detected the issue. She informed us and ever since it has been a good collaboration.”

Mafoune raising her hand in class as she sits with other children.
Mafoune (centre) learns alongside her classmates.

The itinerant teacher

‘Mrs Keita’ – Keita Kadiatou Doumbia – is an itinerant (travelling) teacher who is responsible for identifying children with visual impairment. She’s passionate about inclusive schooling, telling us: “Inclusive education is so important as it allows children with visual impairment to be integrated into school and beyond in their social environment. It also fights discrimination against disabled people.

“It is important for visually impaired and [children without disabilities] to learn together in the same environment, working together and getting to know each other,” she says. “It also helps reduce stigma among the parents.”

 

 

The inclusive education project in Mali is funded by Sightsavers and USAID.

Mafoune is one of 30 children with low vision supported by the Sightsavers and USAID-funded project at the school in Bamako. Her class teacher explains the difference the project has made, saying: “The children receive glasses and a reading stand, and school things from the project. I write in large print and take into consideration the position that they are sitting.

“Before, every initiative had to come from the teacher to help visually impaired children,” he continues. “It wasn’t easy. The teacher had to be innovative. But since the project came up and I received the training, things really got a lot easier for me. This has been a lifesaving experience for me.”

Mafoune is now one of the top students in her class and her father is hugely grateful for the support. “This is a good project that’s only doing good things. There are regular visits from the project workers who are dedicated to their work. [Mafoune] loves school… she’s very dedicated to her studies.”

All images © Sightsavers/Javier Acebal

Mafoune sitting, holding her schoolbag.

“I like geography, arithmetic and science but my favorite subject is history.”

Mafoune sitting, holding her schoolbag.

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