girls' education in Haiti
On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti. In the aftermath, 200,000 people were left dead and 1.5 million homeless. Homes, hospitals and government buildings crumbled, leaving communities scrambling for essential resources and shelter.

Volunteers and relief organizations across the globe swarmed with aid. Most aid groups from the earthquake have since left and the rebuilding process now lies in the hands of Haitian community members and scholars. Eight years later, many still live without basic services (clean water, plumbing) or health resources.

Citizens agree that girls’ education in Haiti and community development need to improve before the country can truly recover. A recent study using World Bank data has listed Haiti as a nation significantly below global enrollment rates for girls in schools.

World Bank data from 2014 states 15 percent of girls 12 to 18 are no longer in school, compared to 11 percent for boys. Only 45 percent of Haitian women over 15 are literate, compared to 53 percent for men over 15 years old. For effective redevelopment, the trends for girls’ education in Haiti are something both locals and researchers agree need to change.

In response to lower female community involvement and enrollment in schools, many research and educational programs focused on girls’ education in Haiti have started gaining popularity throughout the island nation.

Jayne Engle, a doctor of participatory community development in post-earthquake Haiti, conducted a post-earthquake study focused on effective and sustainable community development in Bellevue-La-Montagne, a small community near Port-au-Prince. She prioritized the rebuilding process by the following “levers of transformation:”

  1. Education (for all)
  2. Place identity, networks and research
  3. Social entrepreneurship and social innovation
  4. State-society trust and accountability

Engle worked extensively with community leaders to develop educational programs concerning social entrepreneurship, healthcare, environmental stewardship, community agriculture, planning and construction. As a result, the community has made significant progress in its infrastructural recovery and social equity. Engle believes her framework could be effective on a nationwide scale.

The Days for Girls (DfG) International program teaches Haitian seamstresses to produce DfG hygiene kits for distribution to women across Haiti. Each kit contains valuable information concerning female hygiene as well as safe, clean female hygiene products. During the two-month trial program, 90 percent of participants agreed the kits were easy to use and clean.

The Haitian Health Foundation’s (HHF) GenNext program combines a youth soccer league with “female sexual reproduction health” classes taught by nurse educators. The league is for girls only, as well as the classes. A three-year study of league participants compared to peers not in the soccer league showed significantly fewer pregnancies for league participants.

These programs and others continue to educate a generation of Haitian women eager to propel their
nation from poverty and hardship. As these efforts and more continue, girls’ education in Haiti is sure to only improve over the coming years.

– Charles Metz
Photo: Flickr

In the United States, public education is frequently taken for granted. The plethora of education choices we are afforded often blinds those with privilege from how fortunate they are. In developing countries such as Haiti, these options are non-existent. The following nonprofits and other organizations are promoting education in Haiti.

Education for Haiti
With only about nine percent of Haitian children graduating from high school, Education for Haiti sees it as vital to ensure that children stay in school. The founder, Richard Ireland, spent time in the Peace Corps working in Haiti and saw firsthand the lack of access to education. After identifying six families living in extreme poverty, he decided to pay their children’s tuition. Altogether the six families had 33 children that he was able to send to school.

This legacy carries on today as the organization continues to provide tuition assistance to children of Haiti. While six families were helped last year, the organization hopes to grow to help even more.

Global Partnership for Education
Global Partnership for Education focuses on education all over the world. Through a series of grants, this organization is affecting change in Haiti. The first grant awarded to Haiti lasted from 2010 to 2015 and was utilized to increase access to education, boost student performance and increase governance in the school system.

The second grant to promote education in Haiti, which is $24.1 million, is set to last from 2014 to 2018. This grant is more targeted at enrollment. This reached 102,000 students the first year and an additional 35,444 the following year. This program is a tuition assistance initiative aimed at reaching children who otherwise would not be able to afford a non-public education.

As the educational and cultural arm of the United Nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is renowned for its contributions to discovery and innovation around the world. Haiti is one of 181 countries in which UNESCO has created schools that are part of the Associated Schools Project Network.

With two primary schools, six secondary schools and 13 colleges, the organization is making notable changes in Haiti. The establishment of these schools not only bolsters Haiti but also helps the United Nations to reach the Education for Sustainable Development plan. These schools bring new perspectives based on innovation and experience.

Hope for Haiti
Like many nonprofits, Hope for Haiti focuses on more than one problem in Haiti, but education remains a key issue. Rather than focusing on ground-relief, it uses donations to power the organization and promote education in Haiti.

The nonprofit requires only $5 to provide school supplies to a student, and $100 can support an entire education. The scholarships provided to students through donations are able to change lives. One student, Marie Francelene, was able to attend nursing school through the organization’s assistance. Without Hope for Haiti, she would have been like thousands of other unfortunate students and unable to continue her education.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty
The Haiti Foundation Against Poverty has narrowed its view to a specific area of Haiti. The United Nations labeled the slum Cite Soleil one of the most dangerous places in the world, but this label only encouraged the Foundation. In 2008, Les Bours School was opened on the outskirts of the notorious slum.

Les Bours School was established to promote education among the most disadvantaged children in Haiti. These are children living in unimaginable conditions surrounded by violence and gangs. The school created hope for these children’s futures. To continue this program, each student at Les Bours School is matched with a sponsor in order to continue funding.

These organizations promoting education in Haiti have left a substantial impact on the small island country, with every bit of aid making a big difference.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr

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:

  1. Haiti is the third poorest country in the world, with the majority of the population living on less than $3 a day.
  2. In 2010, 230,000 Haitian lives were taken by a devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince.
  3. 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

Photo: Flickr

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

Sources: USAID, All Children Reading, Facebook
Photo: Save the Children