US Education secretary visits Haiti classrooms

A senior US official visiting Haiti called on Tuesday for greater transparency to improve the quality of education in the Caribbean country’s long-struggling classrooms.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited classrooms at the Tabarre National School in Port au Prince where the students face obstacles to getting an education.
He told the Associate Press he believes that easier access to information can help improve education standards in Haiti by letting people know more about student and teacher enrolment and by letting them track student progress.
“One of the many needs here are clear data systems and having transparency, just knowing basic things of how many children we have how many schools there are, how many teachers we have,” he said.
Duncan sat in on a seventh-grade class with more than a hundred students and also visited a school where the children sleep on the streets at night.
Meeting with Haitian President Michel Martelly on Monday Duncan said that despite the challenges he was optimistic about the future of education in Haiti.
As a candidate Martelly promised to make education free and mandatory.
He says a school tuition program financed by wire transfers and international phone calls has put 1.3 (m) million children in school, though there’s been no independent verification to confirm the numbers.
Duncan’s two-day visit came as the US Agency for International Development announced a $15 (m) million grant to improve literacy rates in Haiti.
Most schools in Haiti are in deplorable conditions and attrition rates are high.
Only about a half of Haiti’s children are able to attend primary school, and less than a fourth make it to secondary school, according to the UN children agency UNICEF.
UNICEF puts the country’s literacy rate at around 50 percent.