October 10 2012

More schools for children in Haiti

09/10/2012 - With the opening of 14 additional classrooms at the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Santo, Port-au-Prince, some 490 pupils now have the chance for high-quality education. This project is part of the reconstruction and rehabilitation programme undertaken by SOS Children's Villages following the earthquake in 2010 which caused widespread destruction also on the whole school infrastructure of Haiti.

Photo: SOS Archives
Entering the new class rooms of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Santo © SOS Archives
Since the earthquake at the beginning of 2010, the number of pupils in the existing school at the SOS Children's Village in Santo on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince has more than doubled. For two years, up to 1,200 pupils attended classes under crowded conditions. Thanks to the newly built classrooms - financed by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development - some 1,330 pupils have now access to primary and secondary education under significantly improved conditions. A computer lab, a library, a room for psychosocial assistance, a playground etc. complement the educational infrastructure, whilst there are rooms available for the training of teachers as well.

Before the earthquake, the situation in the educational sector was dire. Most of the schools were run privately, thus many families could not afford to pay the high school fees; there were no common curricula in place; the level of training of teaching staff was generally in a poor state. Thus, SOS Children's Villages is putting strong emphasis on not only re-building or newly building schools, but also on training the teachers and modernize the pedagogical approach. This is done in close cooperation with the University of Quisqueya and with the Centre d'Accompagnement et de Formation pour la Transformation (CAFT).

Photo: SOS Archives
Big party for hundreds of children at the opening day on 5 October © SOS Archives
"SOS Children's Villages gives high value to education and training because good education opens opportunities for the child's future which cannot be overestimated in its importance", said Francis Faroutine, coordinator of the educational programme for SOS Children's Villages in Haiti on the occasion of the official inauguration of the new class rooms on 5 October 2012. Present at the opening ceremony were 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 February this year, SOS Children's Villages already handed over the reconstructed community school in Santo 19 which was destroyed during the earthquake on 12 January 2010. This school was initially built and run by community members to enable their children to attend primary education. The renovated school now caters for 500 children by teaching classes in two shifts.

Photo: SOS Archives
Pupils from Santo have good reason to be happy© SOS Archives
In the coming weeks, four newly built public schools will be opened in the communities of Sudre, Guilgaud, Tellier and Leger in the remote Southern region of Haiti. These projects were implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education. Construction work on a new SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Les Cayes for another 500 pupils is expected to start in November this year.