Even prior to the earthquake on 12 January 2010, millions of children in Haiti went without a primary or secondary education. Unlike some other countries, Haiti does not have a universal public education system funded by the government. Instead, it has a loose network of mostly for-profit private schools where tuition is about $135 a year – a significant expense for many families. In the earthquake, the situation only worsened. Existing schools collapsed, the Ministry of Education was destroyed; many school records were lost and more than 1,300 teachers died.
In the aftermath of the quake, the SOS School Santo in Port-au-Prince, which already provided an education to 500 students from deprived backgrounds, opened its doors to an additional 690 children. Initially, the children studied in tent schools before moving into temporary classrooms. The 14 permanent classrooms which opened this week have improved studying conditions for existing students, and meant that they are also able to take on an additional 490 students from the local area. Facilities at the school include a computer lab, a library, a room for counselling and a playground. Guests at the official opening ceremony on 5th October included Peter Schick, the German Ambassador to Haiti, the chairman of the education committee of CLIO (Le Cadre de Liaison Inter-ONG) and representatives of partner organisations.
In addition to expanding the capacity and facilities at the SOS School Santo, construction work on a new SOS School in Les Cayes, Haiti’s third-largest city in the south of the country, will begin next month. We have also partnered with the Ministry of National Education in Haiti to refurbish four new public schools across Haiti. In addition to improving the availability of education, we are committed to improving the quality of schooling on offer. SOS Children are offering training for teachers and providing support for modernising educational techniques.
We believe that improving access to free and good education are necessary for rebuilding Haiti. "SOS Children gives high value to education and training because good education opens opportunities for the child's future which cannot be overestimated in its importance", says Francis Faroutine, educational programme coordinator for SOS Children in Haiti.
Read more about our work in Haiti.