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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

Haiti Earthquake facts
Haiti was thoroughly unprepared when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit on January 12, 2010. The earthquake devastated the island, leaving millions homeless. Below are the 10 most important facts about the Haiti earthquake.

 

Top Haiti Earthquake Facts

 

1. Haiti Pre-Earthquake

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world. Haiti ranked 145 out of 169 countries in the UN Human Development Index. Over 70 percent of the population was living under the poverty line.

2. Human Toll

Death toll estimates vary anywhere from 220,000 to 316,000. Over one million people were initially displaced, and about 500,000 remain homeless today.

3. Damaged Infrastructure

Despite being built upon a major fault line, Haiti had no building codes and therefore no way to ensure buildings are safe from earthquakes. As a result, Haiti’s infrastructure was demolished. Nearly 300,000 homes were badly damaged or destroyed. The earthquake struck near the capital city of Port-au-Prince, destroying many of the most important government buildings, hospitals and roads.

4. Effect on Children

Over 4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed, amounting to about a quarter of the island’s schools.

5. Cholera

Unrelated to the earthquake and significantly exacerbating the problem, a cholera outbreak occurred in Haiti in October 2010. As of June 2013, 8,173 people have died from cholera in Haiti with 664,282 cases total.

6. Foreigners Caught in the Quake

Ninety-six UN peacekeepers died in the earthquake, along with 122 American citizens.

7. International Response

The international community proved to be remarkably empathetic towards the crisis in Haiti. From 2010 to 2012, international donors raised an eye-popping $6.43 billion for Haitian reconstruction. In addition, USAID contributed $450 million in aid to Haiti.

8. Reconstruction Effort

So far, aid organizations have rebuilt about 21,000 houses and made 100,000 temporary shelters. Fifty percent of the rubble has been removed and 650 schools have been repaired. In addition, the American Red Cross has provided 369,000 people with clean water, 2.4 million with health and hygiene education and three million with cholera treatment and prevention.

9. Obstacles to Reconstruction

The road to reconstruction has been bumpy. Issues with transparency and oversight have made it difficult to track where the reconstruction funds have gone. Seventy-five percent of all foreign aid has gone directly to NGOs that spent the money inefficiently and with few results. Experts say that it will be another 10 years before “serious results” can finally be seen.

10. The Future of Haiti

Only half of the money that international governments promised has been paid. In addition, half the money that American donors raised has yet to be spent, and the American Red Cross still has $150 million left to use on “long-term projects.”

Though many of these facts about the Haiti earthquake make the situation seem dismal, there is hope that the reconstruction effort can right this ship. Though it will be many years before Haiti is finally on calm seas again, long-term plans have been set in motion to ensure that Haitian reconstruction is going forward as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

– Sam Hillestad

Sources: CNN, DEC, Geography, Huffington Post, Miami Herald

 

 

 

Plans are currently in the works to rebuild Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, in the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that reached a 7.0 on the Richter scale managed to destroy much of the city.

According to the Huffington Post, Harry Adam, the executive director of the company that handles public building and housing construction, claims the reconstruction will not be completed for another 10 years. The first half of the reconstruction will cost about $150 million, and officials have yet to release an estimate for the cost of the entire project.

While reconstruction may sound like a positive endeavor, the experience has not been so positive for many of the residents of Port-au-Prince. In fact, many of the city’s inhabitants were given only a day’s notice that their houses would be torn down before they were forced to evacuate from the area.

Consequently, many encampment zones have been popping up around the city. After these people were chased from their homes, they had nowhere to go and were forced to stay in friends’ apartments or live on the streets in tents and under tarps. Many were unable to gather their belongings before leaving, and when the bulldozers destroyed their homes, many were immediately plunged into poverty.

Not all government officials, however, are in favor of the capital’s reconstruction at the expense of its people. Senator Moise Jean-Charles told the Huffington Post that the construction company “only give[s] them a few minutes notice and then they start bulldozing? I consider that a crime. These families have nowhere to go and are now homeless again.”

Although some renters are being promised compensation, in order to receive the compensation they need to provide proof by way of receipts that they were paying all their housing expenses, which proves difficult for people who were forced to quickly evacuate.

– Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: The Huffington Post, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Photo: Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Earthquake Anniversary Calls for Increased Efforts
On January 12, 2010 a monstrous earthquake shook and shattered Haiti’s infrastructure, killing thousands and leaving thousands more displaced. Relief poured in from the international community with Efforts to repair, rebuild and revitalize the fractured Caribbean nation coming at no delay.

Now almost exactly four years later experts are evaluating – or re-evaluating – the success of said relief efforts: what has really been accomplished in the past few years?

USAID was one of the major organizations that spearheaded the relief efforts though they are also still at work on the ground today. Working closely with the U.S. government and other international aid groups, USAID lays claim to several improvements from the immediate relief stage to the more recent reconstruction stage.

According to the USAID Haiti website, the organization provided emergency food relief to nearly 4 million people, safe drinking water for 1.3 million and shelter to 1.5 million.

USAID also initiated several long-term programs with aims for sustainable recovery. The organization built shelters for over 328,000 Haitians and constructed over 600 classrooms for over 600,000 students. The Cash-for-Work program has employed over 350,000 Haitians and generated nearly $20 million for the economy.

With a heightened focus on agricultural technologies, USAID has helped raise crop yields of corn, beans, rice and plantains.

With such positive reports, it would seem that Haiti would be well on its way to a sound recovery. Unfortunately, as many experts, relief workers and Haitian citizens would attest, this is simply not the case. TIME magazine questions the so-called “progress” and underscores several shortcomings in regards to recovery efforts: “A new action plan by the UN found that at least 70% of Haitians lack access to electricity, 600,000 are food-insecure and 23% of children are out of primary schools.”

Furthermore, over 172,000 Haitians remain in displacement camps with limited access to clean water and sanitation while also contending with the high risk of flooding and disease outbreak – including a deadly cholera endemic brought to the island nation by the UN peacekeepers themselves.

The “simultaneous collapse” of the country’s political infrastructure make matters worse, says TIME, as Haiti must heavily rely on foreign aid and investment in order to regain its footings. Furthermore, billions of dollars in aid never reached the ground in Haiti, leaving development efforts dry and economic recovery tumultuous.

“We need to continue with improving the security of the country, the ease of doing business so companies can see Haiti as an investment place and come with hard capital,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told the Miami Herald.

Governmental corruption and instability continue to cloud redevelopment efforts and cause many to wonder if a new dawn will ever break. Lamothe, however, has plans – and hopes – for his nation. “We have a new parliament that’s slowly going up. We have a country that’s starting to believe that we can get back on our feet. We’re starting to believe in ourselves that it can happen.”

Mallory Thayer

Sources: USAID, TIME
Photo: Time

Hope For Haiti Now
After the disastrous earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the country needed foreign aid to recover as a nation. Hope for Haiti Now was hosted to help raise much needed funds. The telethon included news updates, information about what kinds of help were imperative in the critical period, and performances by famous singers including Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Beyonce.  The Hope for Haiti Now Fund raised a staggering $35 million in its first installment.

The profits went out to various charities and organizations that had tasks in Haiti as a part of the recovery process. Oxfam America received a portion of the funds to help create access to clean water and sanitation, bring in any supplies, and increase access to food and shelters. Partners in Health responded to medical emergencies and helped rebuild and revitalize the healthcare system in Haiti. Red Cross American focused its efforts on responding to medical emergencies particularly for families with elderly or disabled members, or families in which women are the sole breadwinners. UNICEF helped find missing children and kept families from being separated. The United Nations World Food Programme was in charge of supplying food to those who desperately needed it. Yele Haiti Foundation was in charge of ensuring that all the necessary monetary aid, medical aid, supplies, and food reached their destinations, especially in under developed areas, where lack of infrastructure would prevent the aid from going through. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund was in charge of helping rebuilding and recovering the nation in the long term.

The Hope for Haiti Now Fund responded immediately to the emergency that Haiti faced. We can learn a lot from the instant response to the earthquake. The effort to help Haiti greatly increased its chances of short-term and long-term recovery. As with any other disaster relief, this first response is crucial; it can make the difference between a difficult, struggling attempt at a recovery and a sturdy, responsive one. The Help Haiti Now Fund telethon changed the way the world responded to nations in need. In the future, an immediate response will ensure that the nation struck with a natural disaster receives the help that it requires to begin a quick recovery. The help given in Haiti during the critical period took care of families, provided food and shelters, etc. The long term help is still critical in helping Haiti rebuild not only its nation, but even its economy and infrastructure that will lead Haiti to a brighter tomorrow.

-Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: Entertainment Industry Foundation, CMT

3 Important Factors For Haiti Earthquake Recovery
Despite global outreach following the massive earthquake on January 12, 2010, Haiti has been stalled in effectively alleviating the widespread poverty historic to the island, which has increased dramatically after the disaster. President Michel Martelly, elected twenty months ago, has recently proposed a five-point plan of employment, rule of law, education, environment, and energy to help lift his country out of turmoil. But this plan will not affect stagnation unless Haiti addresses its dysfunctional political system, public frustration, and donor fatigue.

1. Political System
The political system in Haiti is one factor that is working against the Haiti earthquake recovery. The system is conducive to winner-takes-all politics, which makes compromise, an essential aspect of a stable political system, difficult to attain. It is also unhelpful that President Martelly faces an opposition-dominated parliament that only exacerbates the inability to compromise. Haiti does not currently have any strong political parties that represent the majority of its poor citizens. This has lead to a system that relies mainly on cronyism rather than public support in order to get things done.

2. Public Frustration
The unfair political climate has led to frustration among the Haitian public. A staggering 350,000 citizens that lost their homes during the earthquake over two years ago are still living in camp settlements across the capital. These people are waiting to see tangible improvements to their daily lives. Their plight has not been made any easier by the drought, two tropical storms and rising food prices. The president faced 128 public protests across Haiti between the months of August and October alone, according to the International Crisis Group.

3. Donor Fatigue
Not only the general public, but also foreign aid donors are feeling frustration over Haiti’s political gridlock. The lack of transparency with foreign aid funds and lack of progress in reconstruction is causing Canada, one of the biggest supporters of Haitian renewal, to reconsider tens of millions of dollars that was meant for the country. According to figures published by the United Nations, only half of the $6.04 billion pledged to Haiti since the earthquake has been disbursed to the country thus far, and only ten percent of that figure was distributed directly to the government. Until Haiti finds a solution for its political woes, the financial aid that Haiti’s earthquake recovery needs could be in a gridlock of its own.

While these issues are important to consider for the Haiti earthquake recovery, it is also important to keep in mind that the international community is still deeply interested in seeing a Haitian recovery. Identifying the key obstacles to any issue is the first step to solving them. Hopefully, steps two to infinity will present themselves sooner rather than later.

– Sean Morales

Source: AlertNet
Photo: Christian Science Monitor