By Lydia Berigena
Despite the need and want for quality education, Haiti suffers from a variety of issues in its education sectors, most importantly poor schooling infrastructure. As a result, the construction of schools is vital especially as a way of encouraging children in Haiti to go to school to get the education they need.
“I love this school! It is so nice!” 14-year old Menderlie exclaims pure joy visible on her face. She is a 7th grade student at Grand Boucan.
The newly constructed Grand Boucan School is a result of a partnership between Digicel Foundation and World Vision Haiti. It replaced an older institution that stood in the same place. The conditions of the previous school were deplorable and discouraging. In fact, some of the teachers and students started to leave the institution as a result of the unpleasant conditions.
“The previous facility was not good. When it rained, it would leak, animals would come into the school because it wasn’t fenced and people would walk in to wash their clothes and bathe. It really wasn’t good,” notes 15-year old Ancilove sighing as she describes the disheartening conditions of her old school. Liker Menderlie she is also in 7th grade.
Unfortunately, poor infrastructure is a reality for many schools in various communities across Haiti. Moreover, the destruction of many educational institutions during the 2010 earthquake further exacerbated the already fragile education system. Thankfully, there have been several projects throughout Haiti to reconstruct and improve school infrastructures, including several projects by World Vision Haiti.
Therefore, Grand Boucan is a positive step towards bettering school conditions in Haiti. While the school has eleven classrooms, for now, only eight of them are operational. As a result, the school takes in students from 1st grade to 8th grade; there are 472 students in attendance. In addition to finishing up the rest of the classrooms, there also plans of adding a library.
Thus far, besides Grand Boucan, in partnership with Digicel Foundation, World Vision has built three other schools in Central Plateau and the North.
“Digicel has a wonderful culture of funding and sponsoring a variety of development projects in Haiti. It is still very difficult to find other partners to help in the development of the education sector of Haiti, but we are hopeful,” remarks Vales Kela with optimism. He is World Vision Haiti Education Advisor.
Sofia Stranski, Digicel Foundation Director confessed that she is happy to continue to partner with World Vision to ensure that children have proper environments to learn. In addition, she admitted that school infrastructure is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
“We specifically build large, structurally beautiful schools to show what the Ministry of Education could accomplish if they tried harder,” Kela adds.
“The school is beautiful and modern, everything in this school is better, the teachers are more patient, more understanding and the learning environment is better here,” remarks a beaming Love Menderlie sitting on a brand-new desk.
However, it is not merely about building schools, but also finding and training qualified teacher so that children can learn better. It is also important to stress that teachers need to help children grow with appropriate tenderness and care.
A multitude of schools across Haiti suffer from an abundance of unqualified teachers and one finds that many children in schools are not at the level they should be at. In its work among several communities, World Vision has found that 50%-60% of children read at least one grade below the academic standards in Kreyol and even lower in French.
Quality education that nurtures and empowers is a fundamental right for every child, yet there are still millions of children who are deprived of this opportunity.
In Haiti, while many children still remain out of school, enrollment rates have steadily increased over the years. This rise can be contributed to a number of factors, but ultimately, Haitian children deeply value education.
“I love learning. I come to school so that I can be better in life. I must go to school!” 8-year old Edmond Nickenson exclaims fiercely even though throughout the interview he has been painfully shy. He is a 1st grade student at Grand Boucan.