All agree — the most fundamental thing that must be repaired in Haiti is her broken educational system.
- Only half of primary school-age children in Haiti are enrolled in school.
- Only 22% of children in Haiti attend secondary school.
- Fewer than 2% of children in Haiti finish secondary school.
- 70% of students in Haiti fail national tests.
- 40% of adults in Haiti are illiterate.
- 90% of all schools in Haiti are privately owned and run by churches and other non-government organizations. 10% are government-run.
If the people of the destitutely-poor island of La Gonave, Haiti are to ever rise from their misery permanently, it will not because of outside help, but because her own people do the raising. We recognize this, and have placed a high priority in educating, training, and developing young leaders. Over the next several years, Starfysh hopes to impact the educational system of La Gonave at many levels.
Creole Language Resources
Since there are very few books and resources in the Haitian Creole language, we will work to produce them. Thus far we have published the preschool reader, An Nou Li (Let’s Read!) and Vwayaj Yo Avek Twiga (Travels with Twiga), a children’s story written as a mentor text that elementary school teachers can follow in writing stories themselves. In addition to providing the books to children and elementary school teachers on La Gonave, we are hopeful the books will also find their way to children and schools throughout the rest of Haiti. Starfysh’s vision is to raise the island’s literacy by not only teaching children how to read, but instilling in them a passion to learn and instilling in teachers a passion to teach.
We have experienced an overwhelming eagerness among the island’s school teachers to learn themselves, to improve their teaching skills. We sponsor and conduct several teacher workshops and conferences every year and are continually amazed at the energy and receptivity among the teachers who attend.
High priority is placed on making it possible for children to attend school. Where schools already exist we will resource them. In villages where there are no schools, we will do what we can to see that they have one. Our pilot example is Makochon, a village in the mountains of La Gonave who, as of a few years ago, had never had a school for its children to attend. Taking our time, we developed relationships with Makochon’s parents, children, and leaders and set into motion the vision of starting a school. Today, there is a vibrant elementary school with passionate teachers and energetic students who eat a nutritious meal every day and pass their national tests at a rate that far surpass Haiti’s national average.
Practical Life Skills
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are fundamentally important, but only so far as these translate into improving the quality of life for ourselves, our families, our villages, and our island. It is essential that we infuse learning with the things that will be useful… not just for surviving, but for thriving and prospering, too, as each finds his/her personal role in raising La Gonave up to what she can be. Topics like nutrition, gardening/farming, soil management, health and hygeine, business creation/management, skilled trades, leadership, etc. must be integrated into the educational experience so that students are ready to take the important next steps after graduating.