To improve the literacy rate in Haiti -- 51% of the population is literate -- International Action will begin supplying schools with children's book in French, as well as the Creole books we are already distributing.
Haiti's Education System Background:
The earthquake did not cause Haiti's education woes. Even before the earthquake only half of the country's school-aged children attended school. Another issue is that there are very few public schools. Less than 10% of the schools in Haiti are public. The price per student to attend a private school in Haiti ranges from between US$20 to US$50 per year. This may not seem like much, but 80% of the population in Haiti lives below the international poverty line -- making $554 or less per year. For a family with three children that would mean $60 per year (this is the minimum private schools would charge), or about 9% of their income for primary school. This does not include school materials or money for food. If parents that make a combine $60,000 in the US had to pay 9% of their income for their kids to go to elementary school, they would be paying $5,400.
Shortly after president Martelly took office in 2011, he announced his plan to have all school-aged Haitian children attending school by 2015.
The plan calls for schools to be free to attend. It does not address funding for school supplies or improving classroom conditions. A student in a classroom is a great first step, but it is not enough. Students need teachers and they need materials.
Need for children's books written in French:
Teachers often teach in Creole and French, but the majority of lessons are taught in French. Because classes are more often than not taught in French, schools need children's books in French. For children in Haiti to best learn how to read, they need to be taught by trained teachers. Since teachers give lessons in French, students need books in French in order to get the full benefit of having teachers. This would improve the students' chances of becoming literate (only 51% of Haitians are literate).
International Action will be working with 20 schools in Cite Soleil in order to decide which French children's books will be most helpful for students. The teachers will have these books integrated into their curriculum before the start of the 2012 -- 2013 school year.
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