The Haiti Earthquake’s Latest Victim May Be The New School Year

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Desks, chairs and school supplies are seen throughout the Mission Evangélique Baptiste du Sud d’Haiti Picot, which was destroyed in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

Octavio Jones for NPR


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The Rev. Calixte Dorval in the remains of the Mission Evangélique Baptiste du Sud d’Haiti Picot in Marceline, Haiti, which was destroyed in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

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A man is seen working to salvage nails from the Mission Evangélique Baptiste du Sud d’Haiti Picot, which was destroyed in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

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Octavio Jones for NPR

A man is seen working to salvage nails from the Mission Evangélique Baptiste du Sud d’Haiti Picot, which was destroyed in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

Octavio Jones for NPR

The earthquake destroyed 50,000 homes and damaged 77,000 more, according to Haitian officials, leaving many poor families an agonizing decision to make: should they use their meager resources to send their children to school, or rebuild their home?

«[From] the academic point of view, we have to open the schools,» said Nesmy Manigat, who served as the country’s minister of education from 2014 to 2016. «But practically — in terms of social justice, in terms of inequality — if you open the schools, [only] very privileged, rich people in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien will be able to go to school.»

Longer-term recovery is also likely to be unequal, Manigat said.

Public schools will get the most help from the federal government, while private schools that are affiliated with relatively well-resourced international organizations — like foreign universities or the Catholic Church — will also have access to help.

Less certain is the future of private schools without such foreign support, which are often in isolated, rural areas.

Manigat hopes that schools in Haiti can be improved to the point where earthquakes and hurricanes don’t disrupt classes for months at a time. That will require better education funding and training more teachers, he said.

«I think the Haitian elite have to… show more leadership when it comes to better funding the schools,» he said. «Leaving 80% of the funding of schools in the hands of poor parents is irresponsible.»

  • haiti schools
  • Haiti earthquake

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