Shifting Focus to Support Education in Haiti
Education in Haiti is a critical issue. Haiti is an impoverished country that struggles to educate its youth due to factors including past disasters, social disparity and present economic hardship. A couple facts put this into perspective:
- Haiti is the third poorest country in the world, with the majority of the population living on less than $3 a day.
- In 2010, 230,000 Haitian lives were taken by a devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince.
- More than 400,000 Haitian children are forced to live without the care of their parents.
These factors have destroyed the lives of many Haitians. As a result, education in Haiti is not an economic priority for the Haitian government and only 10 percent of the federal budget is spent on primary and secondary schools. Haiti ranks 177th out of 186 in the world for national spending on education.
Only 76 percent of children in Haiti enroll in primary school; one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world. However, despite the low percentage of educational success, Haitians highly value literacy and proudly wear their school uniforms when they are enrolled in school. However, compared to most other countries, it takes a higher percentage of one’s income to be able go to school, making it difficult for many to attend.
The most prevalent challenges Haitian education faces include funding and teacher training. In the United States, USAID helps fund Haitian education systems. USAID supports 550 schools and strives toward improving early grade reading and writing while helping demonstrate modern instruction to teachers and staff members.
In 2014, the Haitian Minister of Economy and Finance and the World Bank Special Envoy signed a grant of $24 million to help 230,000 children attend school and receive a quality education. This is done through tuition waivers and other means of support under the Education for All project.
The grant helps focus the Haitian government’s priorities on education. It does this by aiming to increase the quality of teaching and continuously focusing on increasing enrollment.
The goals of the Education for All project include
- Financing more than 420,000 school fee waivers
- Improving teaching and reading instruction material
- Constructing of 160 classrooms in community-based school
With the help of the United States and other developed countries, education in Haiti is slowly improving as enrollment rates continue to rise. Hopefully, this trend will continue and thousands of Haitians will be able to wear their school uniforms with pride.
– Casey Marx