Haiti: How Can I Help? Tips for Donors One Year Later – Part 3

There can be no lasting improvements in Haiti without educating Haiti’s children. Here, we describe two models to bring education to the more than one million Haitian children who currently have no access to schools.

  1. The Community Schools Model, a proven strategy to increase educational access for poor, rural children.
  2. The Healing-Focused Emergency Education Model. Emergency education with a special focus on jump-starting the healing process is a tested approach to providing immediate access to education for children traumatized by war or disasters.

Both models are examples of opportunities for effective investments in Haiti’s long-term development. More in-depth analysis of these can be found in our guide Haiti: How Can I Help? Models for Donors Seeking Long-Term Impact.

Opportunity 3: Addressing the Education Needs of Haiti’s Children

Before the earthquake, only 50% of school-age children (ages 7-12) attended school and 90% of uneducated people lived below the poverty line1 and had a limited public education system with only 10% of schools operated by the government.2 The quality of education varied greatly because the government lacked the capacity to provide quality control. In addition, the majority of schools operated by private sector for-profit and nonprofit organizations were financially out of reach and often physically out of reach as many children could not walk the long distances required to attend school.

The Community Schools Model is designed to enable poor, rural communities to establish schools near children’s homes to increase the number of school-age children with access to education. We provide details on how one nonprofit, Save the Children, has been implementing this model effectively in Haiti.

The Healing-Focused Emergency Education Model addresses the needs of children who have experienced extreme trauma, such as that caused by the Haitian earthquake, and provides teachers with the specialized training to meet both the educational and psychosocial needs of students. The International Rescue Committee, an international nonprofit, has developed Healing Classrooms, which the organization has successfully introduced elsewhere and is implementing in Haiti.

For donors interested in supporting community schools or an emergency education model, here are tips on what to look for in order to have the most potential for impact.

Tips for Assessing International Educational Projects

The best programs will do the following:

  • Expand access to education. Especially in post-disaster situations, access, or the ability of children to go to school, is the critical indicator. In Haiti, a large percentage of school-age children lost access to education because their schools were destroyed and key personnel were lost in the earthquake. Even before the earthquake, many children did not attend school.
  • Address the factors that help children complete school. These include factors such as whether the school is open and has teachers, whether the students attend regularly, and whether the school calendar enables students to attend. For example, in a rural farming community, the school calendar should synchronize with the harvest and planting seasons, which often involve whole families.
  • Ensure that learning is taking place. Implementers should have a plan for measuring student learning and adjusting the strategies according to the results.
  • In emergency situations, education projects should meet the minimum standards laid out by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. These standards ensure that projects address issues of access, completion, and learning outcomes but also take into account the specific challenges that arise in postdisaster or post-conflict environments.3 For example, are the special needs of unaccompanied children being addressed?
  • In post-disaster and post-conflict situations, a high-impact educational aid project will address children’s psychological needs as well as their physical and educational requirements. Evidence has shown that education projects can significantly expedite the healing process when they incorporate curricula and teacher training that focus heavily on addressing the unique psychological needs of children affected by trauma.

1 Catholic Relief Services. (2010). Haiti agricultural programming. Internal Document.

2 UNICEF United States Fund. (2010, May 26). Fieldnotes: Blogging on UNICEF’s child survival work in the field: The day my world crumbled. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from https://fieldnotes.unicefusa.org/2010/05/the_day_my_world_crumbled.html

3 The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. (2006). Minimum standards for education in emergencies, chronic crises and early reconstruction. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from https://www.ineesite.org/minimum_standards/MSEE_report.pdf