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For the past six months the Malian NGO l’Institut pour l’Education Populaire (IEP), with support from Michigan State University, has been developing, designing and implementing a new peace education pilot program at their flagship Ciwara School in Kati, Mali.
One part of the project, “Building Peace, One Story at a Time,” will utilize the power of storytelling in the students’ traditional language as well French and English to promote dialogue and critical thinking. These stories have been written and illustrated, but now need your help to be mass produced for use in the classroom.
As the students work through the dilemmas and conflicts posed in these stories, they will learn the skills they need to participate in the peace-building process.
During the summer of 2015, teachers at the Ciwara School collaborated with MSU faculty and students to create culturally relevant storybooks that would bring the complexities and nuances of the peace-building process into the elementary grades in the Ciwara School. These books, and the curriculum designed for them, will allow students to explore the everyday and extraordinary challenges they and their families face because of the conflicts that continue to shape the Malian landscape.
In the aftermath of the 2012 coup d’état and the continuing civil war that prompted it, the country of Mali finds itself at the start of a long and difficult road toward peace. In the face of continued armed conflict in the north and the long history of civic distrust throughout the nation, it is imperative that the people of Mali have the tools they need to engage in the meaningful dialogue that must be at the heart of the reconciliation process. With one of the youngest populations in the world, Mali has a unique challenge and opportunity to engage its youth in this process and to lay the foundation for an educated and invigorated civil society in the years to come.
The books created over the summer and fall 2015 semesters have been written by the Ciwara teachers and illustrated using traditional Malian fabrics. The teachers and students are so eager to have these multilingual books to work with in school and at home, that they are already writing five more even before they are able to print the ones already completed.
With nothing but a chalkboard for 30-45 students in each classroom, these storybooks will make a world of difference to students who otherwise have little prospect of contributing to the peace-building process in a country that is perennially among the five poorest countries in the world.
With your support, these books will be printed and bound first for all of the 340 Ciwara students, and then for similarly situated students in other schools throughout the IEP network of over 1,000 schools in Mali.
Each $25 donation allows us to print one book for a student at Ciwara. The teachers have created three stories but are working on more. Money will be spent on printing these stories for the Ciwara School. Extra money will be spent on creating books for the other schools in the IEP network and any new stories the teachers create.
The team running this project is made up of MSU students who participated in the Mali Study Abroad Program at the Ciwara School in 2010, 2014 and 2015.
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*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 16CRFPR1PEACE” in the note section.