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Education and Empowered Citizenship in Mali

, 232 pages

12 line drawings, 1 map

August 2015



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Education and Empowered Citizenship in Mali

Primary school enrollment has nearly tripled in Mali since 1991, when the country made its first transition to multiparty democracy. Jaimie Bleck explores the effect of this expanded access to education by analyzing the relationship between parents’ and students’ respective experiences with schooling and their current participation in politics.

In a nation characterized both by the declining quality of public education and by a growing number of accredited private providers, does education contribute substantially to the political knowledge and participation of its citizens? Are all educational institutions (public and private, Islamic and secular) equally capable of shaping democratic citizens?

Education and Empowered Citizenship in Mali is informed by Bleck’s original survey of one thousand citizens, which she conducted in Mali before the 2012 coup d’état, along with exit polls and interviews with parents, students, and educators. Her results demonstrate conclusively that education of any type plays an important role in empowering citizens as democratic agents. Simply put, students know more about politics than peers who have not attended school. Education also appears to bolster participation of parents. Bleck finds that parents who send their children to public school are more likely to engage in electoral politics than other Malian citizens. Furthermore, Bleck demonstrates that increasing levels of education are associated with increases in more engaged forms of political participation, including campaigning, willingness to run for office, and contacting government officials.

Jaimie Bleck is the Ford Family Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.

"A theoretically important, methodologically rigorous, and original contribution to our understanding of education and democracy in Africa. Bleck's insights are grounded in a deep knowledge of and engagement with politics in Mali, but are also keenly relevant for many other parts of Africa and the developing world."

"Using original data from Mali, Bleck documents how state education can create empowered citizens and that broadening political participation is intimately tied to the state’s ability to provide public education. This book will be essential reading for students of democracy, education and development in Africa and beyond."

"Jaimie Bleck presents a thought-provoking study of the political implications of expanded education in Africa's democratizing countries. Drawing on an impressive combination of field research and survey data, Bleck shows that increased schooling not only helps to produce citizens with greater political knowledge, but also induces citizens to engage more actively with their state. These important findings are likely to inform the next generation of research on political behavior not only in African countries where the future of democracy remains in doubt, but also in Muslim-majority countries where public institutions must increasingly compete with Islamic and private alternatives in service provision."

"Through a nuanced analysis of Mali in comparative context, Bleck persuasively argues that schools can teach students the tools of political participation and allow parents to connect with the state."

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