March 26 marked the grand opening of a brand new school for the Lekol S&H students in Caracol, Haiti. The students celebrated the inauguration alongside United States Ambassador Pamela White, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director John Groarke and Haitian officials, according to USAID Haiti’s Facebook page.
The new facility is one of many schools that fall under USAID’s All Children Reading program in Haiti. Also known as Tout Timoun Ap Li (ToTAL,) All Children Reading is one of the programs supported by U.S. and Haitian government collaboration in Haiti. Starting in 2011, Haiti’s Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training unveiled a plan to get more than 1.5 million students in school by 2016, says USAID.
The ToTAL program focuses on developing reading skills for Haitian students in first grade through third grade in the Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc and Cap Haitien areas. All Children Reading will provide more nearly 30,000 children and 900 teachers with critical reading curriculums to meet international literacy standards, says USAID. “In developing countries,” says the All Children Reading experts, “literacy leads to improved health, better education, greater employment opportunities, and more stable governments.”
The All Children Reading program partners with USAID, World Vision and the Australian government to utilize competitive science, technology and education grants to improve the school systems and educational opportunities for students in developing countries.
Awards are disseminated in two rounds, each of which has a different development focus. Round 1 “focuses on creating teaching and learning materials and education data applications to promote accountability and transparency” and has been awarded to 32 projects in more than 20 nations, according to the All Children Reading website.
Round 2 looks more to implementation strategies and technology solutions to improve education in Haiti. The three areas of focus for this branch of the project include promoting mother tongue instruction and reading materials, enhancing family and community engagement and supporting children with disabilities. All Children Reading prioritizes reading in the early school levels in order to instill strong education practices and create better and wider opportunities for children as adults.
Through programs such as ToTAL, the U.S government has trained nearly 900 teachers in new curriculum in both Haitian Creole and French. In addition, USAID has supplied Haitian students with more than 46,000 textbooks and workbooks. The ToTAL program has been introduced in more than 300 schools nationwide, such as the one in Caracol. In the years to come USAID hopes to reach more than 1 million children throughout Haiti, especially “as other partners extend the use of the program’s reading curricula and training methods beyond the development corridors.”
– Mallory Thayer