Aflatoun in Mali



About You

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Project Street Address

636 avenue de l’Yser

Project City


Project Province/State

Project Postal/Zip Code

Project Country


Your idea

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Country your work focuses on:

Mali (as part of an international network including over 30 countries )

Website URL

http://The Malian consortium as such does not have a website – yet.

What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

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What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?


Name Your Project

Aflatoun in Mali

Describe Your Idea



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Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.

Aflatoun seeks to socially and financially empower children to be change makers for themselves and their communities. It does so through life-skills education in their schools. Through teaching kids ages 6-14 about personal exploration, rights & responsibilities, spending & saving, planning & budgeting and running social or financial enterprises.

What makes your idea unique?

Social & Financial Education:

The balance of social and financial education is what makes the Aflatoun concept unique; first, an understanding of rights and responsibilities enabling individuals to develop their communities conscientiously; and second, financial knowledge and skills enabling individuals to make best use of available resources.
The development sector generally concentrates on either economic empowerment (e.g. savings, credit or income-generating programs), or on social education (e.g. human rights or citizenship). Aflatoun believes that concentrating exclusively on one element and neglecting the other creates an imbalance that prevents achieving holistic and sustainable empowerment. Aflatoun’s balanced approach towards CSFE ensures one element is not emphasized exclusively. For example, social empowerment becomes irrelevant if a child is trapped by her parents’ debt, or does not have the resources to secure her entitlements meaningfully. Additionally, financial empowerment should be reinforced by a sense of responsibility to the larger community.

The Five Core Elements:

The Aflatoun Concept comprises Five Core Elements which help children become positive changemakers within their communities. These elements have been arranged step-by-step, each being equally important. Social justice, personal integrity and financial know-how are interwoven. Aflatoun hopes to give children a strong social grounding in which to exercise their new-found financial skills. It hopes to show children that business can be for the benefit of the community as much as for the individual.
Aflatoun aims to promote rights whilst acknowledging that for many people, improving living conditions is crucial. That is why the Core Elements combine social and financial teaching.

What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)

Children & Youth , At risk youth , Child labor , Child protection , Education , Education reform , Girls' development , Play , Youth development , Youth leadership , Development & Prosperity , Business , Conscious consumerism , Economic development , Employment , Fair trade , Financial services and markets , Income generation , Microfinance , Poverty alleviation , Social Enterprise , Environment & Sustainability , Conservation , Energy conservation , Waste and recycling , Disability , Recreation , Abuse and violence , Child exploitation , Civil rights , Gender equity , Tolerance , Vulnerable populations , Citizen participation , Citizen sector , Corruption , Cultural preservation , Democracy and voting , Ethics , Intergenerational relations , Transparency , Volunteerism .

What impact have you had?

Aflatoun’ curriculum plus additional games and activities for grades 1 through 8 invites teachers to make a major shift in teaching style. For most teachers in Mali, the child-centred learning method represents a major shift in teaching styles. Many are frightened and threatened by this new approach. Therefore we focus our effort on training teachers and strengthening their capacities. In a recent study on West Africa by OXFAM America, Action Aid, and local partners it is suggested that teachers in Mali are receiving only 5 days of training
A pilot starting in Kayes in June 2007 showed children are enthusiastic as are parents, teachers and education authorities. Nine schools have started Aflatoun activities and some savings, establishing a transparent savings account lodged at CAMIDE village banks. In 2008, two schools started activities in Ménaka, a zone raising various human rights issues such as discrimination towards designated groups traditionally not allowed to hold property and without a model of resource management. In 2009, 7 schools from 3 Bamako districts sent teachers and administrators to a successful training. Unusually in this context, no teacher has asked for financial motivation, but they suggested holding a second training in their holiday period.

Probably the most significant impact has been on local education authorities which now recognize Aflatoun as a hope for teacher training among staff in need of capacity building. This is largely due to development of workbooks and manuals developed by the worldwide Aflatoun network, contextualised for Africa, adapted and translated in Mali.

Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.

• Taking care to keep the Ministry of Education informed of Aflatoun’s development despite its paradoxical reluctance to become involved until its usefulness is proved.
• Developing a style of teacher training that enables teachers to deliver the Aflatoun program to children
• Monitoring impact in areas where Aflatoun is implanted
• Including a balance of all elements that are part of the Aflatoun concept (teaching practice, child rights, encouraging a culture of savings, environmental education, etc.)
• Operating outside the framework of an organization with a strong education focus, and relying on volunteer help (for training, translation, contextualization), while involving as many stakeholders a possible.
• Starting with one pioneering funding organization (hopefully about to come on board for the program) to attract more, because this is a project that will require substantial support, for teacher training and producing school materials.
• Reflecting seriously on how to achieve local sustainability.

Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.

With the almost complete Aflatoun class books and activity/games manuals in French using appropriate cultural references, thanks to a generous grant from the Marie and Alain Philippson Foundation, we can now concentrate on further developing teacher training. The Aflatoun secretariat will ensure training of trainers in September 2009. We then plan to increase the number of classes covered in Bamako and Menaka schools, and of schools in Kayes, concentrating on support through the Aflatoun partners in Mali: CAMIDE and GAP.

All partners in the program hope to attract both additional local stakeholders (probably some NGOs, but mainly the local education authorities), and additional funders. Advocacy has begun and promising contacts are being pursued.

In becoming a broader based youth movement, a first Kayes Aflatoun schools’ event is being held. It will encourage demand from Aflatoun students, and add to the influence of the Aflatoun brand and spread of quality education.


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What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Success in Year 1:

• Take up of teacher capacity building: investigating possibility of providing a validated Aflatoun training attestation that is taken into account by the new Malian Local Government Civil Service Corps
• Funding for training and educational materials
• Stakeholder capacity to support teachers
• Capacity to consult and engage parents through school management committees and commune councils
• Reproduction of the CAMIDE school savings model by other operators outside the Kayes area
• Identifying ways of enabling Aflatoun students to develop personal and entrepreneurial skills

Success in Year 2:

• Producing documentary evidence of Aflatoun’s impact in schools so far Strengthening stakeholders’ cohesion and commitment to program
• Successful planning of scale up of the Aflatoun model
• Allowing room for innovation, particularly by children
• Designing a management model for a growing Aflatoun in Mali

Success in Year 3:

• Managing the scale up in such a way that cohesion is maintained
• Continuing to grow, with an accent on poorer areas in Mali
• Sustaining the Aflatoun brand reputation
• Engaging Education authorities in process of adopting Aflatoun as an area of national curriculum (perhaps as an accredited life-skills course)

Do you have a business plan or strategic plan? (yes/no)

We have an embryonic plan that has been presented to the Philippson Foundation as part of an Aflatoun program for the ALINIHA group (including CAMIDE and two other early-stage partners in southern Burkina Faso and Senegal. This covers the basic elements of the program in Mali f the next three years

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 1:

Developing a capacity building program for Aflatoun teachers that is adapted to Mali’s needs in the light of the very limited prior training of many, but not all, teachers. This involves further introduction to the Aflatoun method, and engaging local education authorities in delivery through their own trainers.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 2:

Providing adequate support for the first schools to identify the methodology for helping Aflatoun grow. However this is a particular problem because of Mali’s vast size and the scattered nature of villages. It will probably be easiest to chart in Bamako (although some of these schools are not easy to reach!) which is why this area will require particular attention in the next school year (2009/10).

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 3:

Fostering interest among stakeholder (including INGOs and the Ministry of Education, and resting on the influence of the newly identified Focus Point with the rank of advisor to the Minister).

Describe the expected results of these actions.

Step one should lead to successful transmission to children of enthusiasm and interest for the Aflatoun program. Some schools are small, but others are very large: several of the Bamako schools have over 3 000 children. With the impact shared among a larger proportion of these schools, we should begin towards a number of students who will spread the news to others outside their own schools, and create a demand for the program.

With program support, increased professional skills will impact on the Aflatoun teachers’ style of operating, making them more assured actors in the educational field and creating interest from their peers in joining the program.

Between these two groups, it should be possible to demonstrate Aflatoun impact to the education authorities which will be transmitted to national levels.

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Aflatoun was first introduced to Mali through an e-mail on the Ashoka network in 2005, and under a different name, looking for interest in Child Savings, Alou Keita, director of CAMIDE, was immediately attracted by it as a means of introducing a culture of savings to Malian populations. Since then, much has developed, and it has become clear to education specialists that if it is to succeed, it must address Mali’s basic problems with education.

As explained in question 7, the two strands of the program are now closely woven together to the advantage of both.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Aflatoun itself is the brainchild of Jeroo Bilimorria, an Indian Social entrepreneur who has based her international secretariat in Amsterdam. She keeps a keen interest in the program’s progress in all countries and with Ashoka, has been instrumental in supporting links with current and potential funding partners.

Aflatoun in Mali has been co-parented by two organizations: CAMIDE (a growing and fully accredited micro finance operation in Kayes) and GAP, a very small agency working in development issues in Bamako. The director of Camide is Alou Keita who is an Ashoka Fellow and one of the triumvirate of ALINIHA. The coordinator of GAP is Violet Diallo, an Ashoka Volunteer in Mali.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Changemakers magazine from India always arrived many months late in Bamako. Alou Keita participated in a recent on-line banking competition, and Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat, the promoter of the Aflatoun schools in Ménaka, in another, on the issue of modern-day slavery.

This Entry is about (Issues)


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What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of enthusiasm by children would spell the end of Aflatoun in Mali. Lack of interest by teachers would have the same result. Fortunately we do not seem to be at risk of either of these basic building blocks collapsing. If parents and local authorities are not convinced of its usefulness, this will be another severe constraint. Lack of combined enthusiasm by the Mali institutional partners (CAMIDE, GAP) at this stage would probably prevent Aflatoun from growing much further. Lack of enthusiasm on the part of other stakeholders and volunteer supporters would also be a sign of difficulty with advocacy and therefore with future funding.

Financing source


If yes, provide organization name.

CAMIDE, B.P. 451 Kayes, Mali tel (223) 2152-22-73

How long has this organization been operating? (i.e. less than a year; 1-5 years; more than 5 years)

• more than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

A stakeholders committee of the two promoting organizations, plus education specialists, local and INGOs.

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs? (yes/no)

Multiple professional contacts with NGOs in Kayes, Menaka, Bamako, and board membership of at least one local NGO not connected with Aflatoun.

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses? (yes/no)


The Story

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Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government? (yes/no)


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.


How many people will your project serve annually?

Both partners are involved in development and professional contacts over a wide area in Mali. For instance Alou Keita is a member of the board of micro finance institutions in Mali and as such can identify and encourage MFI involvement in Aflatoun throughout the country. Violet Diallo performs consultancies for a number of social agencies, and able to take advantage of networking to identify education specialists, and the volunteer Aflatoun Focal point at the Ministry of Education. Business contacts will be followed up raising program funding.

What is your organization's business classification?

Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

What is the total number of employees and total number of volunteers at your organization?

• Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organization - CAMIDE
• For-profit - GAP, but working with Aflatoun and other programs in voluntary capacity

One employee at CAMIDE, up to five ad hoc volunteers, eg for curriculum training.

Have you received funding from any of the following groups? (Please check as many as apply.)

None of the above.

288 weeks ago Naveen Shakir said: On July 28, 2009 the judges reviewed the entries for the Changemakers “Champions of Quality Education in Africa” competition ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
299 weeks ago Fran Holuba updated this Competition Entry.
299 weeks ago Violet Diallo submitted this idea.