Education campaign in Mali empowers students to make safer and more informed migration decisions

Between April and December 2021, The Migrant Project, Seefar’s global flagship migration communications campaign, ran an educational outreach campaign in three Malian regions: Gao, Sikasso and Kayes. 

Irregular migration is a regular occurrence among youth in these regions. In Gao, conflict is the major factor driving irregular migration. Kayes has a culture of migration in which young men are expected to migrate. Youths are driven more and more towards irregular migration in Sikasso for economic reasons. 

In order to reach the youths before they begin to plan or even to think practically about their irregular migration journey, Seefar targeted one particular category of key influencers in the youths’ lives: teachers.

TMP provided teachers from 76 schools with training and materials to use in their classrooms. A 10-episode cartoon video series that tells the story of Ousmane, a 17-year-old Malian who migrates irregularly to Europe was screened in each school. Teachers also received a soft copy to use in their classes. 20,000 copies of a magazine, inspired by the series, were distributed among the schools. The magazine retells the story in written and illustrated form. Each chapter is followed by questions for the reader, an educational section and a game. 

Data indicates that after hearing information from The Migrant Project, 91% of students considered it best to stay and build their future in Mali rather than risking their lives in irregular migration journeys. Moreover all students interviewed after a teacher-led session reported that they learned something new about irregular migration during the session. 

A student in Gao reported that: “The educational session was very interesting for us students. We understood that irregular migration is silently killing many young Africans.” 

TMP measured and promoted both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation through behaviour measures by looking at a teacher’s performance, experience and choices. TMP boosted extrinsic motivation through perks such as phone data and healthy competition. Intrinsic motivation was promoted by creating a shared sense of  belonging: TMP facilitated peer-to-peer interaction through events, and used apps such as WhatsApp and TeachSmart to interact with the teachers on a regular basis and share extra materials. 

By boosting teacher motivation, the campaign ensured teachers stayed engaged throughout the project, thereby creating project sustainability. 

Data shows that almost all teachers (99%) reported they were satisfied with their participation in the campaign as representatives of TMP in their schools and almost all (97%) reported that the support provided by the Education Outreach Officers after the training was relevant for them in their role as TMP representatives. 

A teacher in Gao noted that: “If we look at the number of deaths caused by irregular migration in the desert and at sea, this exodus of youth to Europe…we all have our share of responsibility. Now with the information we have had with The Migrant Project, as teachers we will do everything to help our young students choose a future away from irregular migration.” 

The proven positive experience has led to most teachers (96%) planning to conduct additional sessions in 2022, an initiative supported by all the directors interviewed. Moreover,  all the teachers reported that they wish their schools could add the topic of irregular migration to the academic curriculum. An interest shared by the directors who all said that they were interested in adding the topic of irregular migration in the academic plans of their schools, which would result in long term impact and project sustainability.

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