Haiti is at a critical juncture. It is slowly emerging from a series of external shocks that have interrupted its development for the past five years. In 2007, the Haitian economy was deeply affected by the spike in food and fuel prices. In 2008, storms and hurricanes cause widespread damage and losses estimated at approximately $900 million. In 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, causing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recorded history. With strong government commitment and support from the international community, the country is at a turning point.
Education is a critical element in the country’s vision for future prosperity. Despite encouraging progress, Haiti faces significant challenges in providing equitable access to a good-quality primary education.
Access: An estimated 500,000 primary-school-age children are out of school. Education access is uneven across regions, and children in urban areas have greater access to education than those in rural areas.
Equality: Socioeconomic barriers are also limiting school attendance. Vulnerable segments of the population continue to face barriers to education, especially children from the poorest households and those living in rural areas.
Infrastructure: The Haitian educational system is characterized by a school supply dominated by a nonpublic sector, which is largely unregulated and mainly financed by school fees that constitute a major expenditure for many households. Education spending accounted for only 10 percent of total public spending in 2010, much below international standards.
Several solutions were discussed during the Learning for All Ministerial meetings, including:
- Increasing state responsibility gradually for community schools, up to 500 per year if capacity permits;
- Subsidizing places for 200,000 new children in nonpublic schools for two years;
- Conducting studies on the situation of vulnerable and marginalized populations to identify their specific needs and design appropriate responses, including pilot programs and tools;
- Providing in-service training for 60,000 teachers, principals, and support staff;
- Subsidizing school meals for 100,000 additional children enrolled in public schools; and
- Implementing the National Partnership framework.
Photo courtesy of UNICEF