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The Children's Villages in Santo, near Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien are home to children from Haiti who face some of the poorest conditions in the world. SOS Children's Villages has been working here since 1982 and has also provided aid during natural disasters occurring in Haiti … more about our charity work in Haiti

Education key to healing Haiti’s future

The destruction of the education system by the earthquake in Haiti is one of the worst threats to the country’s future, say education officials there. Education officials on the island estimate that the quake levelled thousands of campuses, and at least 75 per cent of those in the capital, Port-au-Prince lie in ruins. A count is underway to work out how many teachers and staff have been lost. With nearly half of the country’s population under 18, children have been seriously affected by the disaster a fortnight ago. Literally thousands have lost their families and parents, and now, with schools destroyed their futures and that of the whole country are under threat. “Without education, we have nothing,” said Michel Renau, director of national exams at the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports, now a rubble pile in the city centre. “We’ve been set back very far,” he told The Washington Post newspaper. “But if we pull ourselves together quickly, we’ll go on."“School is life," said Exinor Emmanuel, school accountant and a former pupil at The Andre Malraux School. "To succeed in life, there is no other way in Haiti but school for the regular little boy or girl."

The principal and owner of Malraux school Osse Jean Moreno said: "We are waiting for someone to come with a big machine to move the rubble so we can take out the bodies. "I am a school principal, and I have no big savings" to rebuild. He doubted he would find an investor because the school made so little money, but added:” We need schools for the hope they may bring," he said. Education “has to be” one of the first lines of response in times of crisis, said United Nations Children’s Fund emergency Adviser, Arnaud Conchon “It's especially important to assist children who are separated from their families in “retrieving a sense of normalcy, establishing some safe and secure spaces where they can interact with caregivers,” he said. If the children are facing “toxic stress,” which is typically what happens after disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, “this can have devastating effects for the rest of their lives,” Mr Conchon added. “So it’s really critical to think about establishing those safe spaces.”“School is a safe haven for children,” he said. “This is where they learn. This is where they build their resilience. This is where they are protected. This is where they develop. This is how you save them, basically, in the long run.”

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children