Unique programme improves the quality of education in Haiti after the quake

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© UNICEF Haiti/2010

Taleen Vartan

NEW YORK, 28 July 2011 – Since 2007, the Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition (EEPCT) programme – a partnership among UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands and the European Commission – has aimed to support countries in emergency and post-crisis transition situations as they seek to establish a viable path of sustainable progress towards quality basic education for all.

The first of the four goals of the EEPCT programme is to improve the quality of education response in emergencies and post-crisis transition countries and territories. This includes both the immediate onset of emergencies – when the task is to restore schooling to affected populations – and the more sustained period of reconstruction aimed at rebuilding the education system.

In Haiti, EEPCT funds have made a substantive impact on increasing the capacity of education delivery after the earthquake in January 2010. The programme is helping to rapidly restore quality education while ‘building back better’ for young Haitians – striving to get all children in school in a country where enrolment and attendance were poor even before disaster struck.

Restoring schooling after the quake

The earthquake led to the destruction or damage of nearly 4,000 schools in Haiti, which affected more than 1.2 million students. In 2010, UNICEF concentrated on restoring access to basic education in the context of nationwide school closures. EEPCT funds were applied for the distribution of 1,600 tents and school materials to set up temporary schools in April 2010, benefiting approximately 325,000 children – about 20 per cent of the total affected schoolchildren – in the aftermath of the quake.

The quality of education was improved through teacher training, child-friendly school initiatives, distribution of learning materials and strengthened parent and community inclusion in EEPCT programme activities. In 2010, more than 15,000 teachers have benefited from teaching materials in more than 2,000 schools. Additionally, school supplies were distributed to approximately 720,000 affected children in order to alleviate parents’ financial burden linked to school fees.

Improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools

Prior to the earthquake, 40 per cent of schools in Haiti had no access to drinking water and 60 per cent lacked sanitation facilities, directly exposing more than 873,000 children to waterborne diseases during their time in school.

In support of the national cholera prevention and response campaign, soap and water purification tablets were distributed to about 1 million children in 5,000 schools in affected areas. The provision of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities are essential components to ensuring a healthy physical learning environment.

Advocacy to reopen schools

Successful national and community-level advocacy remains another fundamental aspect to the first goal of the programme. UNICEF and partners worked with the Ministry of Education to forge a common commitment to minimize the duration of school closures in Haiti after the quake. This was important since a lost school year would have exacerbated the social impact of the disaster for children and delayed recovery efforts.

To operationalize this commitment to reopen schools as early as possible and to ensure that children do not have to repeat their studies, UNICEF and Education Cluster partners, together with the Ministry of Education, developed and disseminated an adapted curriculum to teachers for the remainder of the 2010 school year. The curriculum was devised for children who suffered an interruption in their schooling as a result of displacement and school closures.

Looking forward

In 2011, UNICEF is investing in improved access to and quality of education as well as in reform and regulation of the education sector. This means strengthening government capacity to lead, plan and coordinate, training more teachers and bolstering a fragile education system where more than half of the country’s children remain out of school. As the fifth and final year of the EEPCT programme moves forward, EEPCT funds continue to help the earthquake-affected children of Haiti regain hope and dignity and rebuild stable futures for themselves and their communities.

Related links:
Consolidated Report – Back on Track programme in 2010: Results achieved during the fourth year
Christine’s story: A 14-year-old Haitian student braves the aftermath of the earthquake
UNICEF Haiti (in French)

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