Haitians place a genuinely high value on education. But often poverty forces families to make tough decisions about how they spend their very limited resources. In Haiti, thousands of primary school-aged girls and boys do not go to school, and even if they are enrolled, often they will not complete an academic year. The most recent source estimates the number of out of school children aged 6–14 to be approximately 212,0721 or approximately 10%. The number increases significantly when considering those children who have dropped out but were not captured in household surveys that focus on enrolment.
Partners for Learning (P4L) is a unique coordinated initiative led by CARE, which brings together international supporters, such as Educate A Child (EAC) and the Inter-American Development Bank, the Haitian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, local communities, international companies such as Gap Inc. and TOMS, and nearly a dozen other local and international actors such as UMCOR, LIV Livres Solidaires, and Lidè with one common goal: enrol and retain primary school-aged out of school children (OOSC). The programme has already enrolled nearly 13,000 children in the 2014–2015 academic year.
Root causes of poor attendance and low retention in Haiti include quality of teaching and learning at school, but poverty remains the primary factor as, tuition aside, public and non-public schools are still very expensive for parents due to additional school fees, uniforms, books, and supplies.
“Last year, I was unable to send my daughter Medjina to school,”
said Medicot Fatal, a farmer living in Bonal, a small community in the Artibonite department. “There has been a drought. We had to focus on getting water for the crops and even that, we couldn’t afford,” he explained.
“Today, what a success! My child is going to school. One day, she’ll be able to support her community,”
Medicot proudly expressed after Medjina came back from school, where she was enrolled through P4L, with school materials and a hygiene kit provided through the programme partnership.
To keep children in school, CARE and partners are mobilising the community to work together through the establishment of Municipal Education Commissions to encourage decentralised decision-making and improved overall governance of education; focusing on the overall quality of education with school library books distribution, teacher training, and other activities; and helping to find solutions to the parents’ economic challenges by providing access to livelihoods and learning opportunities through its Village Savings & Loan programme.
EAC is proud to support Partners for Learning and all its stakeholders in securing access to quality education for out of school children in Haiti. It plans to support the project during its five years of implementation. By 2018, this initiative seeks to enrol and keep 50,000 out of school children in school.