Washington, D.C. – One year after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is continuing to work with Haiti’s Ministry of Education (MENFP) to restore the nation’s education system. AIR is assembling transitional classrooms and building the capacity of the ministry to train teachers – making it possible for approximately 100,000 students to be back in school in 2011.
AIR’s efforts are supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Programme Haïtien d’Appui à la Réforme de L’Education (PHARE Project), which is based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Last year’s earthquake hit Haiti’s education sector hard. Approximately 4,000 schools were destroyed or severely damaged and have to be rebuilt. Additionally, the need to train more teachers has intensified due to earthquake-related loss of life and teacher attrition.
Currently, AIR has assembled classrooms at 56 sites that have allowed 54,917 students to return to school. It is estimated that at least an additional 45,000 students will return to school in 2011 as a result of new classrooms at 50 additional school sites. The new schools are efficient, semi-permanent transitional structures assembled from pre-fabricated steel frames, weather treated roof panels, with painted hardwood panels on side walls. The classrooms are well ventilated and illuminated by natural light, and they are hurricane resistant as well as being earthquake resistant. The transitional schools get children out of tented communities and into positive learning environments immediately, while the MENFP develops strategies for permanent school structures.
Since the January 12, 2010 earthquake, AIR and the PHARE Project have focused on building the capacity of the Ministry of Education for planning and managing the delivery of quality education, while also assembling transitional emergency schools and ensuring they are staffed by trained teachers and school directors, especially equipped to address the psychosocial needs of students. By January 2011, AIR and its PHARE Project have:
- Trained 1,119 teachers and school directors, and projected another 700 to be trained in 2011.
- Assembled 322 classrooms at 56 school sites, outfitted with educational materials including blackboards, tables and desks, and projected 300 additional classrooms will be assembled in 2011 at an estimated 50 additional sites.
- Made it possible for 54,917 students to return to school at AIR’s transitional schools, with another 45,000 projected to return to school in 2011.
In late 2010, AIR strengthened its efforts to make Haiti’s post-earthquake schools sustainable by partnering with International Action to ensure that infrastructure is in place in all USAID-funded schools for chlorine-treated safe water for drinking and hand-washing. Infrastructure for safe water and adequate sanitation are important priorities of school relief efforts, particularly following the outbreak of cholera in the Artibonite Department north of Port-au-Prince in late October. The partnership, which is a result of AIR’s and International Action’s mutual participation in the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network, is focusing on schools that are part of the emergency education response implemented by AIR’s PHARE Project.
AIR also supports long term sustainable coordination in the education system in Haiti, by maintaining a directory of 113 education-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with a presence in Haiti. The directory includes the names of 113 organizations that are providing education assistance. The directory, Supporting Education in Haiti: A Directory of Civil Society Organizations Working in the Education Sector in Haiti, is available free of charge on line in either French or English from the AIR website. It was distributed widely in print in Haiti, and has been used by several development organizations to target education support services to local Haitian NGOs and schools.
The original directory was developed and funded by AIR in response to a call by former President Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, for better communication and coordination of activities among NGOs trying to help a country challenged by some of the worst poverty in the Western Hemisphere.
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org.