Mali’s Catholic Schools Need Strengthening to Combat “illiteracy and unemployment”: Priest

Credit: Agenzia Fides

There is a need to strengthen the capacity of Catholic institutions of learning in Mali to address the challenge of illiteracy and joblessness in the West African nation, a Catholic Priest involved in education in the country has said. 

In his message during the opening of the five-day 2023 second National Forum on Catholic Education scheduled to end Thursday, September 21, the National Commissioner for Catholic Education in Mali, Fr. Edmond Dembelé, provided statistics of Catholic institutions of learning in Mali. 

“The capacity of Catholic schools should be strengthened so that they can contribute more actively and effectively to improving school education and combating illiteracy and unemployment,” Fr. Dembelé said in his message that the information service of Propaganda Fide, Agenzia Fides, published on Wednesday, September 20.

He highlighted the need “to improve the training of our teachers and then to review our teaching programs so that the education offered to students is adapted to the reality of our country,” describing them as challenges in the Malian education sector.

Fr. Dembelé said that the aim of the forum that was organized under the theme, “Catholic education in Mali today: what are the prospects for safeguarding its identity and remaining at the service of the population?”, was to promote the relationship between educational actors and institutions.


“The aim of this forum is to sensitize other educational institutions to the identity of Catholic education in Mali and to harmonize the relationships between the different actors at national, diocesan, and local levels in the parishes,” he said.

In his message, Fr. Dembelé also reflects on the journey of missionary work in the West African nation, and recognizes the decision of the first missionaries to the country in 1888 to take up formal education as part of their evangelization activities.

The early missionaries, the Catholic Priest is quoted as saying, “saw educational work as an instrument of evangelization and development and opened the first Catholic schools in 1889.”

“After independence, on September 22, 1960, the Malian state officially recognized the contribution of the Catholic Church in the field of education,” Fr. Dembelé said in his address at the event that began on September 17.

He said that the recognition of the contribution of the Catholic Church compelled the Church and the State to enter into an agreement that saw the Malian State commit “itself to helping the Church pay the salaries of its teachers by providing subsidies for Catholic education.”

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“In 2010, a review of the development of Catholic schools in Mali was to take place for the first time and a look into the future in order to maintain and strengthen the quality of teaching,” he further said, adding that the review led to the first national forum for Catholic education, which was held in September 2013.

According to the Malian Priest, the Muslim-dominant country has a total of 138 Catholic institutions with more than 40,000 students.

The Catholic institutions of learning, Fr. Dembelé said, “include three colleges and universities, five technical institutes and vocational schools, 23 kindergartens, and 102 primary schools.”

“Private Catholic education in Mali employs 1,645 teachers,” the Catholic Priest added in his speech during the opening of the five-day 2023 second National Forum on Catholic Education scheduled to conclude on September 21.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.