These past three months have been very turbulent for Haiti, but the INCE Haiti initiative has maintained its commitment to providing quality education to the most vulnerable children in the country. Since January 2020, we have been battling with the Covid-19 pandemic. The disease did not devastate our society as it did other places, but with the grace of God upon us, we managed to continue functioning in a very limited capacity.
Our schools were closed for the better part of 3 months. However, because we did not experience devastating hospitalization and infections, we were able to resume school in April 2020 and we completed the school year with some success. During the period of school closure, INCE Haiti partners developed a Distance learning program that ensured that our network of schools continues to educate the children at home. As a result, our students did not miss much of the school year’s curriculum.
Instability threatens education sector
The country also faces very big challenges from the gang violence that is crippling the very fabric of our society. Kidnapping and violence are day-to-day occurrences and the population is afraid to send children to school. This has become a major challenge for the government and for educators. Our network of schools is working hard to find solutions to keep the children learning and one such solution is our Distance learning program.
Politics is always a major concern in the country and is one of the root causes of our instability. Nothing could have prepared us for the Assassination of our president on July 7, 2021. This event not only destabilized our country but it created a void of leadership and this emptiness is felt very strongly within the education sector. Every time there’s a change in the government, it brings about a change in the Ministry of Education. Thus, there is a lack of continuity and we do not know what to expect from this new Ministry or what direction they will take with regards to education.
On top of all our other problems, another devastating earthquake crippled the southern parts of Haiti on August 14, 2021. The number of casualties was not as devastating as in the earthquake of January 2010 where over 350,000 lives were lost and a million homes destroyed, but we still had 2,207 deaths, 13,000 injured, 130,000 homes destroyed, and an estimated 90% of all schools damaged or destroyed. This poses a severe problem for education in the south. Indeed, the start of the school year 2021 started on September 21st for most regions of the country except the South where we are hoping for a reopening of classes sometime in late October.
Networking to bring systemic change
INCE Haiti was ready to launch its pre-pilot MTBBE project in September 2021. However, due to many of the factors mentioned above, we have decided that connecting with more partners is the ideal way to move forward. As such, we are in talks with AIR Haiti, a USAID funded organization that has been implementing an MTBBE program with success in Haiti for the past 11 years, to see how we can work together to bring quality education to Haiti. We believe this is the only way to really achieve our system change ambition. This new focus on networking also inspired us to think again about our ambition, our dream and our added value to the educational sector (see picture below).
In the meantime, we continue with the preparations for our Mother Tongue Based Bilingual Education project. All consortium partners will present their vision and their contribution to this project shortly.