Dio Kienou

Teacher in the city of Kita, SOS Children's Village Mali 


The Perch. Providing a safe landing space for children

In 2013, there was an SOS child in my class who was not interested in studies. He got bad grades in the class tests, so I went to the village in order to discuss his school situation with his mother. The mother told me: “Ladji doesn’t like school”.  

I took Ladji’s copybooks and I realised that he had not taken notes during all the lessons because he cannot write correctly.  

Get involved for children  
In this moment, I felt sad and wanted to make a difference somehow. So I decided to set up a local school monitoring strategy to support children because I am deeply convinced that school support is a necessity for children to succeed ̶ especially for those with a low level of achievement and difficulties in understanding.  

It emerges that the school future of the children entrusted to SOS Children’s Villages Mali requires the involvement of all: SOS parents, aunts, schoolteachers and village educators. Everyone at his or her level has an important role to play and our organisation will only achieve its mission when these children become autonomous adults. SOS Children's Villages has always been committed to ensuring quality education for all children with the creation of Hermann Gmeiner school structures. Preschool educators and teachers from these schools have always supported the villages in the school follow-up of children and it is in this context that my strategy entitled "The Perch" was born.  

A school monitoring strategy  
‘’The Perch Strategy’’ is a local sponsorship scheme at the level of our programme to support children growing up in an SOS Children’s Village programme who have learning difficulties. Teachers and educators are the local sponsors. I am one of those. I am the one who created the whole concept. We follow our godchildren at school and at home with their families. Through this strategy, I would like to involve more preschool educators in the kindergarten and the teachers of the Hermann Gmeiner School of Kita in the school support of children in the care of SOS Children’s Villages. We thus support the family care staff. Everybody will be a school sponsor for a child who faces a certain difficulty and will help him or her to overcome different challenges through a personalised, efficient and effective approach.  

To do this, I needed the support of all the staff of the educational structure and the coordination of the follow-up between teachers and SOS parents and aunts. At the beginning, it was not easy to convince my colleagues to do additional work: that was a big challenge but, with the headmaster’s support, they accepted the strategy in the best interests of the children and the performance of our school. I also had to coordinate the follow-up between teachers and SOS caregivers. The direct beneficiaries of the strategy are the students of the first to the ninth classes. In general, the strategy takes into account all the activities necessary for the academic follow-up of a student. Among others, we can mention:  

  • The control of the child’s punctuality in his or her class;  

  • The actual acquisition of teaching materials;  

  • School support adapted to the needs of the child;  

  • Counselling support to mothers, aunts and educators in the village.  

A report at the end of the school year makes it possible to evaluate successes and areas for improvement. The strategy is renewable every year and is part of a dynamic of sustainability.  

As ”The Perch Strategy” may not take account of all students, we organise additional remediation courses in order to have a successful school. These classes are done every day during lunch break, 1 hour per day, and allow us to raise the level of our students.  

Together, we can…  
Today, "The Perch Strategy” is bearing fruit at the level of the SOS Children’s Villages programme in Kita. From its implementation to today, we have been able to identify the real learning difficulties of the beneficiaries. This has allowed us to then propose effective solutions to address their challenges and to improve their educational level.  

Ladji has passed his DEF (Diplôme d’études fondamentales, the Diploma of Basic Studies) exam and is now studying to become an electrician in a professional school. As he said: “Thanks to the Perch Strategy, I got motivated to study.”  

The Hermann Gmeiner School in Kita is one of the most successful schools in the area. Students perform well at the level of the Teaching Academy:  

  • 9 students (5 boys and 4 girls) from the Hermann Gmeiner School of Kita were invited to participate in the “Camp of Excellence” by the President of the Republic of Mali in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019 to be celebrated for their outstanding efforts and brilliant results in school.  

  • 14 students from the SOS Children Village of Kita got their Baccalaureate exam and are now studying successfully at university in Bamako;  

  • 3 students from the Hermann Gmeiner School of Kita (2 boys and 1 girl) obtained Excellence Scholarships to continue their studies at prestigious universities in France.  

This high performance really impressed the National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Mali and led him to support “The Perch Strategy” in all SOS Children’s Villages programmes in the county.

Dio Kienou

As a teacher and master in law, Dio is a fervent defender of the Child Protection Policy. In his work, children are the source of motivation. As in the saying "He who educated a child did not live needlessly, because of this child, he made an enlightened man", education allows him to contribute to the development of the country. 

Dio grew up in a big farmer’s family where he was taught the values of traditional society: community, work, respect and a sense of sharing which guide him in his everyday life. Today he is a married father of three boys to whom he tries to pass on the values he received from his father. 

For Dio, reading is a source of knowledge, discovery and development, which is important when you are a teacher. Dio also practices Taekwondo for good physical condition, self-confidence and against stress.  

Dio lives in Kita in western Mali, near Mount Kita, known for its caves and rock paintings. People come here for the Dakar-Niger Railway, for its music and for the annual Roman Catholic pilgrimage.