Though the 1987 Constitution of Haiti requires that a public education is offered free to all people, the Haitian government has been unable to fulfill this obligation. 94% of all children do not attend pre-primary programs (Unesco 2012). The illiteracy rate of the Haitian population is estimated at 47%. The graduation rate in primary school is below 30%. Out of the 67% enrollment rate for elementary school, 70% continue on to the third grade. 60% of all students drop out of school before the sixth grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. (UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report 2008) Of 2 million children attending school, more than 50% are over-aged. Gender discrimination is an obstacle to Haiti’s development; while girls enter school on parity with boys, girls are subject to higher drop-out rates and they represent 60 per cent of the over-aged students. (UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report 2008)
Less than 40% of schools are accredited. Following the Jan. 12 earthquake, 1,263 out of 4,716 schools in western Haiti were destroyed and another 2,541 were damaged; In rural Haiti and in poor urban schools the classrooms lack basic supplies, textbooks, teacher’s material, adequate administration, testing material, basic equipment, electricity and bathrooms or latrines. Most of this schools merely accomplish an alphabetization mission.
National Education System
80% of Haitian children currently enrolled in school are in private schools. Only 8% of Haitian primary schools are state-run (MENFP 2007). The Haitian education system is the most privatized in the world. The UN, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and USAID are planning and have provided research on how to maintain and regulate the established private sector. The minimum cost of tuition is $2.50 to $5.00 a month during the first and second cycle of primary education (first to sixth grade) and not less than $11 for the third cycle of primary education starting in 7th grade (Chart Education System Haiti). Regardless of how low these tuitions seem, the average family can’t always afford it, so school books are most often forfeited. Without textbooks, the entire classroom learning opportunity and teaching performance are negatively compromised. Access to education must be at the core of any short, medium and long term strategy. Access to education is needed to combat centuries of high levels of illiteracy and plant stronger seeds for a self-sustainable generation of Haitians.