Numerous crises don’t dampen Haiti’s resolve for education
November 02, 2023 by GPE Secretariat, and UNICEF Haiti |
4 minutes read

Through accelerated grants, GPE worked closely with the government of Haiti and its partners to respond quickly and efficiently to the emergencies faced by the country and support the continuation of schooling.

Nesmy Manigat
“Despite the current difficulties, schools remain a vital place for children to stay protected, thrive physically and mentally, and develop their full potential.”
Nesmy Manigat
Minister of Education, Haiti

Earlier this year, Haiti’s Minister of Education, Nesmy Manigat, wrote about the recent crises that have undermined the education of thousands of Haitian children. COVID-19, socio-political turmoil and natural disasters pose immense challenges to the education sector.

The Haitian government has worked closely with GPE and other partners to respond to these emergencies quickly and efficiently, delivering critical support to keep education going in a difficult context.

Socio-political crises beginning in 2019

Haiti experienced political and social unrest in 2019, leading to a humanitarian crisis and 60% of the schools closing nationwide. To support the continuation of schooling, GPE provided Haiti with US$3.3 million in accelerated funding for the period 2020-2022.

With UNICEF as grant agent, the funding supported 80,000 primary and secondary children in 200 public schools, providing teaching and learning materials, remedial courses, tutoring, financial support, via direct cash transfers to vulnerable families, and psychosocial support to both children and teachers.

Jonalson Fravien
“I want this school year to go well. Let there be no shooting. I want them to stop for a while so we can study and do our homework.”
Jonalson Fravien
13-year-old student, Martissant, Haiti

Jonalson lives with his family in Martissant in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, a neighborhood entirely controlled by gangs since June 2021. Gang violence destroyed his father’s business, the family’s main source of income. Jonalson’s family is one of thousands in need of financial assistance since the violence broke out in 2019.

GPE funding supported 1,000 families in vulnerable areas of Port-au-Prince with direct cash transfers to help ensure that at least 1,600 children between 6 and 14 years old re-enrolled in school for the 2020-2021 school year.

COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020, students faced a new host of challenges to access education. A GPE accelerated grant of $7 million – with UNICEF as grant agent – helped the government ensure the continuity of learning and the return to school for the most vulnerable children.

Teaching and learning materials were developed to support technology-free remote learning for children aged 5 to 14 from disadvantaged rural and urban areas – materials that will help facilitate learning during future emergencies as well.

A cash transfer program supported 6,000 of the most vulnerable families to cope with the economic fallout of COVID-19. They benefited from the financial support as well as awareness sessions on respecting the school calendar, the right to education, and the need to keep children in school.

The funds have enabled families to meet basic household needs and send their children to school upon reopening.

To support students’ return to school, 80,000 students and 2,000 teachers received school kits in 365 public schools.

Sanitary infrastructures and hand-washing points were rehabilitated in 210 schools, and buckets and soap were distributed to 600 schools. Posters describing health protocol and hand-washing steps helped limit the transmission of COVID-19 once students returned to school.

Earthquake in southeastern Haiti in 2021

In 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Haiti, destroying or damaging 1,250 schools and leaving some 250,000 children without access to school. Thousands of households lost all their belongings and livelihoods.

After consulting with partners, the government reprogrammed $2.8 million of its two GPE grants – $1.9 million from the COVID-19 grant and $0.9 million from the socio-political crisis accelerated grant – to respond to the emergency caused by the earthquake.

Many vulnerable families became further impoverished, and some of them were targeted by a GPE-funded cash transfer program to help them cope with the devastation from the earthquake.

Jacquelin Favot
“My house collapsed during the earthquake. We lived on the street, under a tree. There was nowhere else to stay. Our house was no longer habitable.”
Jacquelin Favot
Farmer and father of 5 children, Grande Anse, Haiti

After the earthquake hit, Jacquelin lived outside with his mother, wife and five children. Like thousands of people, they needed shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene. A cash transfer helped Jacquelin and his family access basic services. He recounts:

“I received the notification while I was working in my garden. When I heard the phone ring “bling!”, I checked my account balance, I had just received money on my phone! I was so happy! I owed money for my children's school fees. I was able to pay part of it so that they could continue to go to school. But they were also affected by typhoid fever and malaria. So, I used what was left to take them to the clinic.”

Other activities, including distributing school kits to children in remote rural areas, helped ensure education continuity for those most vulnerable to missing out on their education.

Nesmy Manigat said, “Despite all these challenges, we are not giving up, and with whatever means available, we are working to address the problems caused by these emergencies and meet the requirements to transform the education system, setting the compass on welfare in schools for both students and teachers.”

GPE stands by Haiti’s efforts to mitigate the learning crisis and restore hope in the millions of children whose education has been disrupted by consecutive emergencies.

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