As Mali’s relationship with French – the language of its former colonial ruler, France – has grown more fraught, an effort to use AI to create children’s books in Bambara and other local languages is gaining momentum. That change has meant there is more political will behind efforts like that of RobotsMali, a start-up that has used artificial intelligence to create more than 140 books in Bambara since last year, said Séni Tognine, who works in Mali’s Education Ministry and has been helping RobotsMali create its books. Now, he said, both the government and the people “are engaged in wanting to learn and valorize local languages.” RobotsMali uses AI to produce stories that reflect the lives and culture of regular Malians; instead of simply translating a French classic like “Le Petit Prince” into Bambara, RobotsMali’s team uses Chat GPT to generate content around a theme like “mischievous things kids do.” Using more layers of AI, stories are crafted and images are created to illustrate the text. Reading relevant stories in their local language is inspiring and empowering students.

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