The education system in Haiti is seriously affected by the political unrest of the second half of 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic. In January the schoolyear 2019/2020 started with a delay of several months. Since September the schools had been closed because of political unrest and demonstrations. After just a few weeks of teaching in 2020, schools were closed again in March in a response to the Covid-19 crisis. Mario André, the local project coordinator, gives an update on the situation:
‘The situation in Haiti is still relatively stable in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our latest tally of infected citizens are 40 with a reported 3 deaths. We are still under social distancing restrictions and our ports are closed to travelers. However, goods and material from manufacturers are coming into the country. INCE Haiti is actively working with a project to continue educate the children with our consortium partners network. This is a huge challenge because the country is not equipped with the technical resources, such as reliable internet in the provinces, computer access, and smart phones to take advantage of true distance learning.
We have, however, developed a system of distance education that entails the preparation of a distance learning curriculum that enables us to print lessons for the children and distribute them to the schools. The schools then will have the parents pick up the lessons once a week and take them home to the students. The students will do the work at home and submit them back to the schools on Friday for correction. Many parents in the province are either un-educated or under-educated and they cannot provide learning assistance to their children. So we are asking them to find those family members that have education to help at home but, if this is not possible, the schools will schedule tutoring sessions in groups of 10 students from Tuesday to Thursday where teachers will be available to assist them while practicing social distancing. Mask and gloves will be required, and everyone must wash their hand prior to entering the classroom.
This is the strategy that we are applying, and we start a pilot in the first week of May. In this stage, 2 classes at 19 schools are involved. With the pilot we reach 1.250 students. If the pilot is succesful, we will implement this strategy at more schools. In our network we have more than 600 schools. The project requires a great deal of collaboration among our partners and the logistics can be challenging, but we have a good plan and we will begin to execute the project once the curriculum is finalized. CRECH is the organization responsible for the creation of the curriculum. We understand that distance learning is far different than in-class learning, as such, the curriculum is adapted to a format that incorporate the different aspects of distance learning. CRECH has 20 plus years’ experience in the creation of curriculum and distance learning. They also provide teacher training and training for trainers.’