Providing Education to 120 Students in the Village of Bantam Near Timbuktu, Mali  

Project location: Mali, Bantam
Project start date: January 2016 - Project end date: December 2016
Project number: 2016-001
Beneficiary: Caravan to Class


Caravan to Class is passionate in the belief that all children, no matter where they are from, have the fundamental right to an education.

Timbuktu, Mali is one of the Africa’s historically most significant places with many UNESCO World Heritage sites including an ancient university from the 12th century. Today, not only are the villages around Timbuktu some of the world’s most impoverished and vulnerable, but they are still recovering from the takeover of Timbuktu and all of Northern Mali by a violent extremist group linked to Al Qaida. Though the French military liberated the area in early 2013, many challenges remain in this most fascinating and deserving part of the world, including the challenge of illiteracy.

Caravan to Class, since 2010, is the only NGOs both building and supporting the operations of schools in villages around Timbuktu. Of the roughly 960 villages in the region of Timbuktu, less than half have a school in their village. Without a French education, the children cannot participate in the country’s economic life beyond the village. Caravan to Class will reverse the injustice of illiteracy in the village of Bantam near Timbuktu and elevate the quality of life for the deserving children in this village. The village of Bantam, a scale village of more than 1,000 residents, has never had any schooling of any kind for its children.

Thanks to support from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, Caravan to Class will build a 3-classroom school building in the village of Bantam near Timbuktu (in cement), equipped with chairs, desks, chalkboards, and will fund the operations of the school, paying teachers’ salaries, and providing school supplies and basic nutrition, for a period of three years. The Bantam school will make “going to school” a routine part of life for more than 120 children ages 6 – 12 years.

Bantam is roughly 30 kilometers South-west of Timbuktu, on the right bank of the Niger river. The village has a population of roughly 1,000 and is a very ethnically (Songhai, Peul, Bozo, and Tuareg) diverse village whose residents earn their livelihood from fishing, goat-herding, and agriculture. Bantam is a relatively newly settled village who children currently have no access to education.

As with the other nine schools Caravan to Class has built in villages around Timbuktu, the Bantam school project will be managed and administered by Caravan to Class’ longtime NGO partner, Nord et Developpement. Additional partners for this project include the Timbuktu Ministry of Education which will not only certify the school as a public school (with responsibility for the curriculum) but will also send a director at their expense to run the school, and the UN World Trade Program which supplies basic nutrition. The Bantam school will take 4-6 months to build from start to finish.

As usual, Caravan to Class will be on hand for the school’s inauguration. At the last school inauguration the head of the village said “We have been asking the government to build us a school for fifteen years without success. Now, because of the work of Caravan to Class and its donors like the Nando Paretti Foundation, maybe one of our children will be President of Mali some day.”

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