Education in Haiti Remains a Priority After Devastating Earthquake
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 28 January 2010 – More than two weeks after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, childhood education remains one of the utmost priorities for millions of affected children and families. Today, the UNICEF Canada team traveled throughout Port-au-Prince speaking with Haitian people about the need to continue education for children even in the face of a natural disaster.
Schools in districts affected by the earthquake have remained closed since the February 12 disaster. Many children we met with today in Port-au-Prince spoke of their wish to get back into the classroom as soon as possible. This was echoed by parents hoping that a return to school would restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of their children.
|© UNICEF Canada 2010|
|Mother and children talk to UNICEF about the importance of getting back to school.|
But for thousands of children in Port-au-Prince, their schools have been destroyed or have suffered such severe damage repairs could take months or even years. Suitable learning environments are in short supply as a result. The challenges facing education in Haiti have been compounded by the collapse of the building which housed Haiti’s national Ministry of Education.
Hilair Jean Milan, Director of L’Institute Mixte des Frères de Fatima, hopes the NGOs and government can get the schools open soon. His school suffered severe damage during the earthquake and he does not know whether it can be repaired. Milan believes education is the means to a secure and prosperous future for Haiti’s children.
Despite these daunting challenges, much work is being done to get kids back to school. UNICEF education specialists are working with the Government of Haiti and other partners to ensure that the country’s children are not denied access to quality education.
|© UNICEF Canada 2010|
|Young boys show their excitement about the thought of going back to school.|
Haiti’s Minister of Education, Joël Desrosiers Jean-Pierre, explained in an interview with the UNICEF Canada team that education must not be overlooked during this crisis because it is education that protects the wellbeing of children and nurtures their overall development. Minister Jean-Pierre went on to say that UNICEF has been an invaluable partner; helping to ensure that education for children remains a priority during the earthquake relief efforts.