Mali is one of the largest countries in West Africa, 65% of the land is desert and the country is enclosed within 7 other countries. It counts 13 billions of inhabitants and the Human Development Index ranked the country 174 out of 177 countries, in 2006. Almost 70% of the population lives in rural area even if Bamako concentrates 10% of the population. Median age is 16 years and 45% of adults are literate which is under the average of the francophone countries. The large number of young people is explained by a very high fertility rate, 7.5 children per woman ; whereas the replacement fertility is 2.1. Facing this high demographic pressure, one of the biggest challenges is to offer a quality education all over the country.
The GDP per capita of Mali is 288 000 F CFA, which is slightly higher than the average of the countries belonging to the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA), 269 000 F CFA. Mali invests massively in education. The running costs in education represents 27.7% of the total running costs expect debt. It ranks second in countries of UMEOA, one standard deviation higher than the average (23.7%). However, the percentage of taxes to GDP, 15.7%, is low compared to UEMOA countries since only Burkina Faso has a lower percentage of taxes, 12.3% (Banque mondiale, Pôle de Dakar and al., 2010)
After 9 years of fundamental education, young people take the Diploma of Fundamental Study (Diplome d’Etudes Fondamentales, DEF). If they pass the test they can enter into general secondary education or technical and vocational education. Two types of diploma are prepared in initial TVET: the vocational training certificate (Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle, CAP) in two years, Technical Bac in three years and Technical Certificate in four years(Brevet de Technicien, BT) .
Students, who have attended the last year of fundamental education without passing the DEF, can prepare the CAP in three years .
Institutes for vocational training (Institut de Formation Professionnelle, IFP) and Centers for vocational training (Centre de Formation Professionnelle CFP) prepare young people for taking the CAP and the BT. This system can constitute a safety net for youth at risk of leaving school early . Whereas technical high schools (lycées techniques) prepare young people for taking the Technical Bac.
Apprenticeship is available through a dual system between vocational schools and enterprises. Nevertheless, traditional apprenticeship also exists and gives learners the possibility to be trained by an artisan employer . Since the second phase of the investment programme for education, 2006-2008 , some commitments have been declared to enhance this part of the system.
The running costs excepting teachers salaries of TVET are the highest costs among the same types of costs in other education levels (Banque mondiale, Pôle de Dakar and al., 2010). It should be noticed the subvention allocated to private vocational schools (5 467 million of F CFA). This figure is explained by the high percentage of students in private vocational schools: 75 % (Banque mondiale, Pôle de Dakar and al., 2010).
Ongoing Vocational Training
A modular training is under way in few Centres and Institutes for vocational training. This training is particularly meant for low qualified adults and out-of-school young people over 16 .
Major TVET projects in Mali
Since 2006, TVET has been declared in the Investment Programme for Education (PISE) as the second priority of the Programme (Programme d'Investissement dans le Secteur de l'Education, 2006-2008). The Logical Framework  and the medium term budget plan for 2010-2012  specify the objectives and the resources allocated for supporting TVET within the country.
TVET system and labour market in Mali
A survey of the insertion of TVE graduates was conducted during the period of 1993-1996, but the small size of the sample and its concentration in the north require to be careful with the results. Within 36 months after graduation, only 44% of graduates were employed . It does not necessarily imply that the TVET system lacks connexions with the labour market. As explained by Atchoarena, the lack of integration of young people into the labour market can be due to labour market trends. For example, there could be a high proportion of high qualified people in low qualified jobs that affects the placement rate of lower qualified people, a surplus of experienced workers or a low demand of qualified people (Atchoarena and al., 2000)
TVET institutions in Mali
The different ministries in charge of TVET are :
- The Ministry of Basic Education, Literacy and National Language (Ministère de l’Éducation de Base, de l’Alphabétisation et des Langues Nationales)
- The Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training (Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle)
The website of the ministries in charge of education provides information on political commitment in TVET.