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.
The students in Cite Soleil are ready for 2012! The Book Project is off to a great start in the new year. Recently, International Action's Director of Operations in Haiti, Dalebrun Esther, led the first book-curriculm follow-up meeting for the teachers in Cite Soleil schools. In short, we found that the teachers and school directors are amazed by how well the children have responded. Representatives from 10 new schools came to the meeting because they had heard of our book program and its successes. They want to join.
4,175 books were donated to schools in Cite Soleil in 2011. We will continue to donate even more in 2012. However, we realize that the way in which books are used is just as important as the quantity of books donated. Our goal for the Book Project in 2012 is to have 30 more schools receive our books and integrate the books into their curriculm -- using the materials to teach basic reading, writing, and comprehension.
We look forward to the opportunities 2012 will bring these children in Cite Soleil.
Back to School! For students starting the new school year at Mercy School and 19 other Cite Soleil schools back to school supplies include… paper? (check)… pencils? (check)… uniform? (check)…clean water? (check) and books? CHECK! The school year starts on October 3 in Haiti. The 960 students at these schools now have a combined 3,500 books to start the school year. That is 3,500 more than they had last year. These 960 students will now have the chance to learn to read. Look at the pictures below, see how excited these children are to have books? It is truly amazing.
Can you imagine not having the opportunity to read or write? Only 52% of the people aged 15-24 in Haiti are literate. We are hoping programs like our book project will help improve this number. However, children having access to books is only the first step. There needs to be someone to teach children how to read the books, not only to understand the story, but to learn the rules of the Creole language -- phonics, phonemic awareness, etc. The books need to be integrated into the classroom curriculum in Haitian schools, not just handed out.
For those reasons, in collaboration with Educa Vision, we have created a lesson plan and have delivered two days of seminars to representatives of the 20 Cite Soleil schools on how to best use these books. A school director from the Mercy School said:
"The seminar that International Action held opened my eyes to how we can improve how we teach with these books. It also gave me some new ideas for what our teachers can do with the resources we already have."
The seminar took the form of a workshop at the International Action office in Port-au-Prince on August 15 and 16, 2011. The International Action staff led the training with a review of six titles; Kote Linèt Mèmè (coming together as one), Tòti Lekòl La (respect for the environment), Jak ak Mak (respecting people), Ale (creativity and fun), Fefe ak Kikit (respect for animals as well as human beings), and Se Fèt Mako (celebrating life). Two books were covered in the first day and four books were covered on the second day. The representative will train their fellow colleagues (teachers) how to use the books. During the school year, Louko Noel of International Action and the staff from Educa Vision will hold another seminar for these 20 schools to measure their progress, answer any questions, and ensure that the teachers not present at the training received adequate training from the representatives that came to the seminar. Our director in Haiti, Dalebrun Esther, will monitor the state of the program and report back to International Action staff until this time.
None of this would have been possible without a full-team effort by our board members, our staff, our partners, teachers and parents in Haiti, and you. We thank you greatly for your help.
Warm regards and deepest thanks,
The International Action Team
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