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FEATURE STORY

Haiti Improves Access to Education with a Targeted Government Strategy

November 21, 2012

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Martelly made education a cornerstone of his government program and launched the Universal, Free, and Compulsory Education Program.
  • Haiti has one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world.
  • The Education for All program includes subsidies, training, institutional strengthening, and hot meals for children.

“I love school because I learn things. When I grow up, I will work with computers.” Seven-year-old Pétion Jordeans studies at ADEG, a co-educational school that receives a subsidy from the Haitian Government to accommodate disadvantaged children.

Until very recently, Pétion lived in one of the camps for displaced persons located close to the institution, and in all likelihood would not have been able to attend school without the subsidy.

The mother of Emmanuelle Durvil, a nine-year-old girl, said, “I don’t work, without the subsidy I would not be able to send my daughter to school.” Emmanuelle wants to finish her schooling at that institution and become a teacher.

A key issue in the Government’s development policy

Launched in 2007, the subsidy program is one of the pillars of the Haitian Government’s national Education for All strategy.  Developed on the basis of this strategy, the Education for All program includes the training of teachers, institutional strengthening of the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP), and improvement in reading skills, in addition to the subsidy.

Under the last component, health and nutrition, 85,000 children have received a hot meal since 2007.

In 2011, President Martelly made education a cornerstone of his government program and launched the Universal, Free, and Compulsory Education Program. During the 2011-2012 school year, this program allowed more than one million children aged 6 to 12 to attend school free of charge.

The challenge is a daunting one: Haiti has one of the lowest enrollment rates in the world - 76 percent at the primary level and only 22 percent at the secondary level. Moreover, 85 percent of the teachers are not qualified to teach at the primary school level.

Approximately 500,000 children were not enrolled in school before the earthquake. Income inequalities have led to sharp disparities in access to education among the regions and social classes.

Since 2007, the World Bank has contributed US$108 million to the Education for All program.

Open Quotes

We have given reading, vocabulary, and mathematics books to children. Close Quotes

Mr. Dieudonné
principal of the co-educational school ADEG

Providing access to education for disadvantaged children

Almost 170,000 children from disadvantaged families were enrolled in private institutions by the end of the 2011-2012 school year, because of the subsidy program financed by Education for All.

Schools receive an annual subsidy of US$90 per child and they, in turn, make a commitment to have a minimum number of qualified teachers and provide each beneficiary child with three textbooks and a uniform. Financing covers the cost of the first six years of primary education.

“We have given reading, vocabulary, and mathematics books to children,” stated Mr. Dieudonné, the principal of the co-educational school ADEG. The school accommodates 500 children, almost half of whom are subsidized by the program. As a result of the subsidy, he was able to renovate a section of the institution to improve the children’s study areas.

However, this subsidy alone cannot cover all the educational expenses for a child, which include, for example, other textbooks. These costs are too high for the poor, in an education system dominated by private schools.

To compensate for this inequality in access to education, schools in the rural areas of the departments of Artibonite and Nippes were the first to be subsidized. To date, subsidies have been provided to 8 of the 10 departments in the country.

Almost 1,400 newly qualified teachers

Another objective of the Education for All program is to improve the quality of teaching by accelerating teacher training over a three-year period in the 10 departments.

Five hundred teachers are certified each year at the Primary Teacher Training Colleges. As a result of the Accelerated Initial Training [Formation Initiale Accélérée FIA] program for teachers, almost 1,400 additional student teachers graduated in 2012. 

Another 1,278 students will graduate next year and 1,500 have just started their training. Students are selected after completing their secondary education [baccalauréat], and then undergo one year of accelerated training, followed by two years of internship with pedagogical supervision.

“Now, at least I can say that I have a profession. I have always wanted to work with children and it is now a dream that I can fulfill,” said a young student teacher in the FIA program.

She works at the République de l’Equateur national school where working conditions are difficult: all classes have more than 50 students who often have no materials. “Sometimes there are no teachers available,” explains the principal, Ms. Rose Marie Bien-Aimé. “The student teachers now work as trained teachers under my supervision.”

Her wish? That the student teachers who have trained at her school will work there once they obtain their diplomas.