Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

UNICEF hopes to kickstart Haiti schooling

Agence France-Presse

PORT-AU-PRINCE–Dozens of schools in southern quake-hit Haiti are to reopen Monday as part of UN efforts to bring back education to the devastated country, a UNICEF spokeswoman told AFP.

“In many areas, a lot of schools have been damaged or have collapsed” due to the January 12 earthquake, leaving students nowhere to learn, said spokeswoman Jennifer Bakody on Thursday.

The UN’s children fund estimates that over 4,000 schools were destroyed, along with the Ministry of Education headquarters.

“In some places, some have already started again,” Bakody told AFP, however, including schools in the southern town of Jacmel where many have been operating since March 8.

The challenge, she said, is bringing back education to students living in the squalid tent cities in the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas that sprung up following the disaster, which left over 220,000 people dead, including around 38,000 students and 1,300 teachers.

UNICEF estimates some three million students had their education interrupted or completely halted due to the quake, and the school year has been extended to August to allow students catch-up time for the learning they missed.

The fund, working alongside the Haitian government, has provided around 3,000 school tents and teaching materials since January, the organization said in a statement. An interim curriculum has also been set up to cover basic life skills and disaster preparedness.

Illiteracy rates in Haiti are around 54 percent for the general population.

The overwhelming majority of schools are private, leaving children from poor families often unable to pay fees, and even before the earthquake struck, a quarter of Haiti’s children were not attending school.

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