Back to School in Haiti

Rony Janvier | November 7, 2013

Photo: CWS

Photo: CWS

School: establishment where people teach. At school children receive the bread of instruction. A society cannot function without school, because school is the intellectual base of all of society. According to the ancient saying, “As school is, such is society.” The greatness of a nation is directly linked to the quality of its educational system and a good educational system generally leads to more intelligent people, more free, more just, more reflective, more performing, etc. The nation is an image of its citizens.

In Haiti schooling is not accessible for all. Depending on social class, some children go to very expensive private schools, others to less expensive private schools and another category to community schools. There are also children devoid of everything who do not go to any school. Generally the start of the school year always causes worries, especially for parents who do not have a lot of possibilities. Because of this, on the one hand for more preparatory time, since some years the start of school has been postponed from September to October. On the other hand, for two years the Haitian government has launched a program of free and mandatory schooling for all, supporting certain schools at the primary level and subsidizing books. However, all of this does not solve the problem, since families are facing a life that becomes increasingly expensive.

The right to education is very precious for a child. Unfortunately, the Haitian government is not yet able to guarantee this right. Children whose parents cannot pay for school often end up in the streets. Some children in rural areas are entrusted to relatives or someone living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, or the other main cities of the country. These children often end up as restavèk (living in domesticity).

CWS works in Haiti with a network called ASR Haiti; Aba Sistèm Restavèk, or Down with the Restavèk System, that counts 18 member organizations whose mission is to work with restavèk, poor and vulnerable children. The Haiti earthquake destroyed some of these organizations’ schools. For a country where the quantity of schools is not sufficient, the destruction of some of them only worsens the situation. CWS, in its concern of contributing to efforts that offer a better life to children, helped in the reconstruction of four community schools, located in Pernier, a commune of Pétion-Ville, La Réserve, a commune of Jean Rabel in the Northwest of the country, and La Saline and Bicentenaire, two neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince known for its gangs.

The construction of the school in Pernier has finished, offering a better learning environment for the children who came back to school in October. According to Rosemond Julsaint, coordinator of the school, the first days of construction work attracted the curiosity of many, with parents praising the work and showing their satisfaction with the new building.

If school is necessary and even fundamental to a society, no need to tell you how the reconstruction of these schools in Haiti proves necessary. CWS understands it well, including in its program the reconstruction of these four buildings damaged or destroyed in 2010. This support of CWS clearly shows its willingness to participate at the emancipation of the Haitian people in general, and specifically, at the training of children who are often considered as voiceless.

Rony Janvier, Program Officer, CWS Haiti