BAMAKO/TIMBUKTU/DAKAR, 4 February 2013 (IRIN) - Children returned to school in Timbuktu in northern Mali on 1 February, a week after Islamist groups fled.
Teachers say about half of all schoolchildren fled northern Mali in 2012 when Islamist groups took over much of the north and shut down many public schools, dismantled the curricula in others, and sent some children to Koranic schools.
“You cannot imagine the joy I felt in returning to this classroom,” said the director of Timbuktu’s main primary school, Coulibaly Ami Doucaré. She abandoned the school last April when Timbuktu was taken over by Islamist group Ansar Dine.
“Institutions like the United Nations and World Bank are increasing their attention on girls education, but in countries like the West African nation of Mali only about half of all girls are enrolled in school. There are efforts by local people in rural Mali to make sure girls get an education.”