malichild.jpg  School children in Mali The Mali teachers' union has produced a report about the conditions of schools in the urban area of Bamako The state of the schools - which can be seen on a documentary available on the Education International website (go to: http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/show.php?id=1224&theme=hivaids&country=mali ) - is truly appalling and makes a mockery of the UN target of Education For All by 2015. Teachers in the so-called 'developed' world would not think of working under these circumstances - class sizes often over 90, open latrines, school buildings inhabited by animals at night, rooves through which the rain pours in the rainy season. A previous post on this site reports a long teachers' strike in Mali in 2008 and in that I wrote the following: "Despite being rich in mineral deposits such as gold and being West Africa’s biggest producer of cotton, Mali is one of the World Bank’s so-called Highly Indebted Poor Countries and its education system has received much attention from the World Bank over the past several years. Amongst other things the bank has put pressure on the government to cut public spending which has meant it has been difficult to hire teachers and has encouraged the hiring of so called ‘contract teachers’ basically untrained youth living near a school who can be paid as little as 50% of the already meagre salaries earned by teachers accredited by the government. The Bank also encouraged the ‘double shift’ sytem meaning that a school has two school populations a day and teachers’ work expands accordingly." It is good that the Mali teachers' union is highlighting these appalling conditions and also that the teachers' union in Mali have taken action to try and secure an imporvement in pay and conditions for their members. They deserve all our solidarity.