Is there a future for Haiti’s children?

This year marks three years since devastation struck Haiti. A magnitude six earthquake struck the country, sending waves of cataclysm throughout the nation. Undoubtedly, Haiti has since faced trying times as a consequence of this disaster as well as the dire economic and social problems that attained before the earthquake. Primary of these is the lack of proper education. The earthquake placed Haiti’s already floundering education system into crisis. It has been estimated that nearly 3 million students had their schooling disrupted or halted. This, coupled with previous problems has left Haiti with the lowest literacy rate of any country in the Western Hemisphere.

Hope in Hell-A Glimmer of Faith amid the Struggles

Before the earthquake, Haiti’s education system was already plagued with poor management, over crowdedness, poor infrastructure and little teacher training. In short, the system was on the verge of collapse. The earthquake invariably made it worse as currently; more than 600,000 out-of-school Haitian children and youth are either illiterate or functionally illiterate. This means that a generation of Haitians does not possess the necessary knowledge and skills to enter the labor force.

How then can Haiti make way for its future development? This can only be done with the development of human capital, specifically,children, Haiti’s future. It is clear that for the continued development of Haiti’s education system, continued investment is needed to bolster the sector towards self-sufficiency and sustainable development. The children are their only hope.

Navito - Haiti-Children broken schoolImage Credit: www.flickr.com    Haitian school destroyed by earthquake

Grasping For Relief-The Present State of Haiti’s education System

Regardless of the blatant logistics problems, numerous strides have being made to ensure the continuity of education in Haiti. Makeshift schools set up from the use of basic materials as well as public institutions such as churches, other religious institutions and dedicated shelters has been the greatest stride forward. To this end, Haiti needs help–practical and education- specific help that will enable them to bolster the sector towards greater efficiency and sustainability.

Navito - Haiti-Children schoolImage Credit: www.flickr.com  Haitian children being educated in makeshift school

When The World Forgets-What Can Be Done To Help?

While numerous donations were awarded to education, the vast amount of funds needed to improve the system far supersededthe initial donations allotted. This as the sector was already in a poor state before the destruction. Today, such aid has but evaporated, though the struggles continue.

Yet, with a largely underfunded educational system and a tight atmosphere of austerity, Haitian children must be educated. Education must be free to all and for this to be accomplished, education must be fee. There are two primary reasons for this:

1.    The country is in dire need of educated human capital, this is the only way future development will be realized.

2.    Most Haitians do not possess the means to fund their children’s education: annual school expenses account for approximately 40 percent of the already low or non-existent income of low-income families, serving as a financial burden for families with children in school.

While revenues may not be readily available to be afforded to this cause, Haiti must make the sacrifice in whatever way(s) necessary in ensuring that their population is educated. If not, the country will continue in its circular conjecture of problems–of social ills and economic woes.

Reasonably, ‘free’ education is to some extent what is presently available in Haiti. Currently, a semi-formal system of education is being facilitated and managed by non-governmental organizations, such as churches, community centers, and for-profit operators. This means that the current education system functioning in Haiti is doing so with virtually no Government involvement. This lack of oversight leaves over 50% of school aged children, averaging well over 1.3 million, without access to an education.

How can a country be expected to rise out of poverty and develop as a nation, if the majority of their population does not have access to even basic education? The government needs to support these various Non-Governmental Organizations in an effort to standardize and improve the current system that is being offered.

The government’s role in this goal will therefore be coordinated towards improving teacher training, student enrollment, attendance and completion. This means that the sector will be able to extend to all Haitian children and completely free education will be facilitated. This is a surefire way to mend the Haitian education gap, a process that is woefully needed.

Navito - Haiti-Children - kidsCredit: foreignpolicyblogs.com  Haiti will have a bright future, only if its children are educated

With this effort, it is hoped that a sustainable education system will emerge from the rubble of the earthquake. A system that provides quality education system for all Haitians, a system that serves as an avenue to the housing, the jobs, health and transportation needsof this poor, developing country. If such as system will not come about from a lasting commitment from the world outside Haiti, then Haiti needs to look within itself. It needs to support its children, and they will support the future of Haiti.

By: Norvan Martin

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