Monday was a big day for many students who attend the SOS School in Santo: It was their first proper day of school. Not that they didn't have lessons before, it's just that now those lessons are being held in brand new classrooms. A series of shelters have been built next to the existing school, and the tent classrooms have finally been taken down. The shelters make up eight additional classrooms where 355 students will receive lessons. The building is positioned behind the existing school, which fortunately did not suffer any damage from the earthquake and is still fully operational.
Most schools in Haiti are private and often cost more than an average family is able to afford. Especially after the earthquake, when many people lost their homes, the need for free education grew. More than 300 additional children were welcomed into the SOS School in Santo in order to provide a free education to those who need it. This dramatic increase in the number of pupils of course caused a lack of space where classes could be held. From April 2010, when classes started again after the earthquake, lessons were taught in two shifts, and morning and afternoon classes were held in tents.
The ground was dusty and classrooms were difficult to keep in order, which made life hard both for children and teachers. Now, the space in front of the old school building is cemented and the bright blue hangars at the back side provide a proper space for the classrooms. "The inauguration of this new building is the first step towards a more individual and child-oriented education with fewer students per class", says Max Lamesch, Public Funding Coordinator of SOS Children‘s Villages in Haiti. The first few days after the inauguration show a clear difference in the quality of classes. "The classrooms are cooler and the air circulates much better than it did in the tents. Furthermore, the children have more individual space with the new chairs", says a fifth grade teacher.
It is this difference that made the opening of the new school buildings on Friday such a joyful event. After the inauguration by a priest, the ribbon was cut and SOS Children awarded certificates to organisations who had offered their valuable support in order to provide better conditions to SOS students.