On this trip, we were happy to see that 98% of the School Bank books were returned. We collected data regarding the children’s grades and attendance and visited some students at their homes. A summer French class was started this month and also, two teachers enrolled to complete their education.
No matter which indicators you pick, Haiti has an appalling record on education, third only to Somalia and Eritrea. The narrowing of the education gap between the industrialized world and e poor countries is currently dependent on NGOs working in the education sector. To achieve the desired narrowing, donors must demand results from their dollars. I am not excluding the implied responsibilities of governments even when financial interests maintain the current geopolitical system of poverty.
Mr. Edmond, a teacher in St. Marc, has invested his time and knowledge for the past 12 years educating poor children (and restavek ) in the 6th grade. Regardless of the paycheck and the limited or non-existing didactic material he has consistently worked towards improving his students’ ability to succeed. The monthly paycheck of $75, when available, is less than half of what a teacher should normally make. His number one objective is to raise the chances for his poor students to enter 7th grade at the Haitian National School, where tuition is not required. The local Haitian public school provides secondary education that meets only 5% of the demand. The kids unable to pass the admission test to enter the public system or unable to pay tuition at private schools do not continue on to 7th grade. Mr. Edmond and all the other teachers committed to providing education to the poorest kids are working in substandard environments without resources. This is why we started a Book Bank to provide the students with textbooks. Some of the recipients we serve completed their primary education without books. After an ongoing process to develop an ideal list of school books we distributed more than 780 books in 2011. This year the book bank will distribute almost 3,000 books. All the material is approved by the Ministry of Education. The editor and supplier of the books has generously granted discounts to support our book bank initiative. In June we traveled to Haiti to retrieve the books from the students. Many were doubtful of the ability of the children to successfully maintain the books but 98% of the books were returned with the exception of 5% of the exercise books. The remaining 93% will be redistributed in September 2012.
The Book Bank desperately needs empowered teachers and they need proper training. We have enrolled two teachers to a 3-year program, 5 hours daily, to become certified. Without long term solutions, the quality of education will always be impaired. The work of a qualified teacher is the determining educational experience that will lead the children not only to take full advantage of the Book Bank but also to become responsible members of a just society. Haiti’s standard for education is a 4th grader sitting in a school with no books and a teacher who has only finished 9th grade. We can lift this standard. With carefully managed budgets and local resources, we can change the destiny of 192 poor children currently at the school we serve.
All the missions to Haiti have been extremely successful. Our families, friends, and friends of friends have donated to support our initiatives. Last year, more than 100 children were able to have school books, some of them for the first time. Often we recognize the incredible human potential in the kids we are able and unable to serve. We continue to promise them obtainable objectives to maximize their intelligence for a sustainable and just world. To their credit, without incentives, 98% of the books were returned on the sole idea that they would become custodians, able to pass down the same opportunity to other kids. Without your help, the students, teachers and the Book Bank program would not be a compelling solution to poverty.
For the 2012-13 school year, we plan to fund books for 192 children, as well as teaching materials, supplementing teacher salaries, tuition to 3-year programs to achieve teacher certification, and continuing education programs for teachers. Additionally, our program will fund and provide basic equipment and supplies, after school tutoring for low-performing students, training to increase teacher proficiency, classroom materials, and a school library. The purpose of this program is to improve the system-wide low standards of impoverished schools and facilitate implementation of the curriculum set forth by the Haitian Ministry of Education. To accomplish all of this, we need your help. Please go to our website and donate what you can.
In the near future, we would like you to join us in Haiti. It’s a great opportunity to directly help poor children by strengthening their access to quality education and to enjoy the rewards of accomplishing great work. A special thank you to Katrin Fechler, Giuliano Carrafelli, Bonnie Aja and Yvonne Aja for the generous donations.
“New media specialist Mimi Ito of the University of California at Irvine explains that, “the ability for deep inquiry, to navigate complex systems, the ability to get good at something from a demand-driven perspective that fosters a sense of agency and efficacy, to know how to make things, to mobilize socially and politically [should come from] a 21st century learning environment.”
“Rather than featuring rigid time schedules and annual grade promotion with minimum mastery of skills and concepts, it puts students in control of their learning pace. Time-wise, it is flexible and gives students access to the instructional material around the clock. In conjunction with teacher guidance, students undertake lessons based on their preferred learning approach. As they master key concepts, they advance to higher skill domains. We have the tools for this type of educational innovation, but it has been difficult for mainstream schools to embrace new models of education.”
“Educating young people to become global citizens will allow them to learn about the interdependence of the world’s systems, believe that solutions to global challenges are attainable, feel morally compelled to confront global injustices and take responsible action to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable world.”
“Great teachers have the ability to transform and enrich the lives and living standards of students. According to recent research, a student’s kindergarten teacher has a long-lasting influence on important lifetime outcomes, such as future earnings. These effects are so important that the difference between having an above-average kindergarten teacher and a below-average kindergarten teacher could translate into a difference of more than $300,000 in future earnings for a classroom of 20 students (Chetty et al. 2010).”