Learning… To Live: The Importance of Education in Haiti
The beautiful sounds, spoken with confidence and hope, find my ear as we approach one of the many schools we would come to visit on our last trip to Haiti. A large group of young children recite the alphabet in Kreyól. One classroom over, another teacher shouts to be heard, working through an Algebra problem on the makeshift chalkboard. The tarp that separates the classrooms serves only as a visual divide to the children, who are crammed into a tiny space with little room to work, struggling to hear and concentrate.
And yet this problem of inadequate facilities with many distractions is just one of several obstacles Haitians have to overcome as they strive for a better education. The Ministry of Education has provided very little funding to support education, leaving it up to the private sector to provide 90% of schooling opportunities. Because of this, there is usually a minimal fee associated to attend school. Even so, the teachers only make roughly $45/week, and many don’t have the equivalency of a high school degree.
We know that:
- Some children can’t afford to attend school
- Some children need to work to make money for their family instead of going to school
- Many teachers are not equipped and/or given the proper resources to be successful
- Only 1 out of 2 children go to school
- Roughly 50% of adults are illiterate
- 80% of the population is unemployed
Something must be done.
As you may have heard, Haiti was recently named the poorest country IN THE WORLD. Does that mean the Haitians should continue to suffer? Where do they go from here?
The answer is simple. There’s nowhere to go but up.
When I tell people about my involvement in Haiti, the conversation instantly goes to the negative. For the most part, people think that Haiti is continuing to fall…and fail. The questions quickly go to the government, the corruption, and even the supposed deal they made with the devil. “Do you REALLY think you can make a difference there?”
There is hope.
And it’s founded upon education.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I don’t just think that’s a cool quote by an amazing dude; I believe it 100%. Recently, I was able to spend some time with an amazing Haitian leader, Junior Bataille. Junior is a brilliant college graduate, an entrepreneur, an advocate, and the son of a pastor who leads one of the largest churches in Haiti.
As we spoke on missions, relief work and the economy, Junior had this to say, “The biggest misconception is that Haitians can’t help themselves. The solution can always be found locally.” He went on, “When you get people to start thinking they are helpless, it removes power and takes away their dignity.”
So what does that mean for us?
It means that for us to truly help, we need to invest in Haitian leaders, teachers and in education—empowering them to live out Proverbs 22:6.
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”
It’s not that these children don’t have hopes and dreams to change the world. Take a look at our own kids for example. In their bio’s, we learn that they want to be doctors, nurses, accountants, and even architects.
There IS hope.
They just need the resources.
And it starts with ONE CHILD. ONE LEADER. ONE COMMUNITY.
How can you help?
- Pray. For guidance and provision to empower these Haitian leaders and children.
- Share. Shout from the rooftops that Haiti will prevail, that the power of education will rise up leaders in this country. It starts with ONE CHILD. ONE LEADER. ONE COMMUNITY.