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mali-500x250There are more than 4,000 miles between Silver Spring, Maryland, and the Malian capital of Bamako, but that distance melted away earlier this month when a delegation from Mali paid a visit to the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.

Led by the Malian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Etienne Baranshamaje, the delegation visited the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus on December 8 to gain insights to the American community college model. Baranshamaje says the Malian government “is keen to introduce a community college system” because of its many advantages in relation to education challenges the country faces.

“It was an honor to host our friends and higher education colleagues from Mali to discuss American community colleges and how MC makes education affordable and accessible to all,” says Dr. Brad Stewart, vice president and provost at the College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. “Montgomery College is a global institution not only to our students who hail from 160 countries, but to our international partners including China, India, Ethiopia, and today, our visitors from Mali.”

Mr. Baranshamaje specifically requested a visit to what he called a “locally and nationally renowned community college.” The College is no stranger to Mr. Baranshamaje, whose daughter is a student at MC.

The College’s nursing staff gave a walking tour of the health sciences programs, including the simulation labs and cutting-edge facilities of the Health Sciences Building. The delegates also listened to presentations about the College’s administration, funding, and governance, as well as MC’s academic programs, student support services, and much more. Dean Ed Roberts shared information from Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs, which was a special request from the delegation.

In Mali, one of the challenges education leaders face is finding qualified instructors. For example, the workforce development department, which has an ongoing project financed by the World Bank, is looking for training offerings in many occupational trades but can’t find classroom instructors. The delegation would want to discuss the prospects for possible collaboration.

The delegation included five Malian university rectors, the director of the school of agriculture, the director of higher education, an adviser to the minister, the director of workforce development, the manager of the World Bank/Netherlands-financed Higher Education project, the World Bank team leader in charge of the education portfolio in Mali, a representative from the Netherlands government, and Mr. Baranshamaje.

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