School Days: A Reflection of Haitian Education

Written by Ronda Porter-Altema

A few years back I was in Haiti working on a short-term project.  The home that I stayed in had a young girl, age 16, living there.  She was not part of the family as she was brought from the countryside to work in the house in exchange for her schooling to be paid for. 

She was shy talking to me but I did sit down and have a conversation with her in between her chores.  We talked about what she wanted to achieve in life and what her future goals where which all focused on continuing her education and hopefully receiving a degree for a good paying job.  I asked her what grade she was attending.  In a very embarrassed tone, she told my translator that she was in 6th grade.  She was ashamed to be at a 6th grade level at age 16. 

To me, this was not shocking to hear a 16 year old in a 6th grade class.  In Haiti, and most developing countries, children that can attend school either start later in life as their families save for the opportunity or they attend every few years when there are not paying jobs available for their children to work and help provide for the family to survive. 

According to the Inter-American Development Bank “Of the 800 children born each day before the quake, for example, only 567 were fortunate enough to attend school. And only one of three finished sixth grade… Five years later, there has been some notable progress. The education ministry says that 1.4 million children now have access to free and universal education through a government subsidized program”. But according to the Haiti annual report from UNICEF  “Haitian children have very poor reading competencies and are reading below international standards, meaning that they lack the necessary minimal competencies to understand what they are reading, and are therefore not able to learn and are underperforming,” causing more holes in Haitian education.

This past week school started back up in Haiti.  With that, several article highlighted the good and the bad about the educational system of Haiti. 

In the Miami Herald, an article focused on the realities of the educational system in Haiti and the changes the Haitian Minister of Education Nesmy Manigat has been focused on for this upcoming school year by saying “this school year will also focus more on the classroom. In addition to the new uniform policy, the ministry has launched several new initiatives aimed at improving how students learn, what they learn and when they should start to learn.”

The Haiti Libre summarized important statistics and goals for this coming school year that Manigat and his team have put together showing how Haiti is trying to better the educational system. 

These readings and statistics help connect the dots to slow economic development in Haiti.  Historically education in Haiti has been inclusive to citizens with money creating a larger class gap and creating more poverty. 

SoudeHaiti wants to help close those gaps with adults that may not have had the opportunity to acquire an education earlier in life.  SoudeHaiti wants to create ways to help educate toward a working trade in rural communities that will help create more stability in these suffering communities through creating adult classes that can help create more jobs and more sustainability to families. 

Although SoudeHaiti is still focused on building the community center  that will be used to teach these future classes that will help sustainability, they also have started a campaign to help buy educational items to use for teaching classes here

Help SoudeHaiti reach out to more youth and adults to better their livelihood.  If you have a skill that you would like to teach to the community in Northwest Haiti then please contact us!  We would love to hear your ideas!  And if you have the means please consider a small donation to help continue education.

Resources from:
Miami Herold:

UNICEF Haiti Annual Report 2013:

Haiti Libre: