Haiti

Haiti: IOM intensifies school rehabilitation activities

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Thanks to new funding of US$ 4 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), IOM is intensifying its school rehabilitation work in time for the new school year.

The new funding, part of USAID's assistance to the Haitian Ministry of Education to improve the learning environment of Haitian students, will allow the rehabilitation of 37 schools in IOM's six regions of intervention (Port-au-Prince, Cap Haïtien, Gonaïves, Les Cayes, Petit Goâve, and Saint Marc) and will benefit more than 20,000 students.

Thirty per cent of the schools are expected to be completed before the beginning of the school year scheduled for the 7th of September.

School constructions are designed according to Ministry of Education standards in collaboration with its engineering department.

The Minister of Education, Joel Desrosier Jean Pierre said, "The Ministry of Education is very pleased with these interventions in state schools as well as the positive partnership developed with the Ministry."

Many students, at the sight of their new and modern school facilities, are anticipating a successful school year. "Until now, dozens of us were crowded into tiny classrooms," said a young student in Coteaux, a rural area in southern Haiti where dilapidated school buildings were further damaged by last year's series of hurricanes and tropical storms. "These improvements will help us learn so we can all have a better future."

According to UNICEF Haiti, only about 50 per cent of school-aged Haitians attend primary school, and most of them do not reach the fifth grade. Most schools in the country are private, and although the fees can be as low as US$50 a year per child, even this can be a burden on people living on less than US$2 a day.

Over the past five years, IOM has been instrumental in rehabilitating school infrastructures throughout the country. Between 2004 and 2007, the IOM programme rehabilitated 42 schools and provided school benches and other equipment to over 50 others. In 2008, 18 schools were rehabilitated and an additional 34 were equipped.

"This IOM programme has a direct positive impact on the lives of thousands of children, in the lead-up to September, which is traditionally a difficult time in Haiti when many are struggling to meet the costs of the "back to school" period, " explains Rodney Babe, IOM Programme Manager.

In 2009, school assistance implemented by IOM has increased dramatically. Currently, 74 school buildings are under construction in the six regions; 40 per cent of these schools are located in Gonaives, the area most devastated by last year's storms and hurricanes.

For more information please contact Frislain Isidor at IOM Port-au-Prince, Tel: +509.244.1247 ext. 118; E-mail: fisidor@iom.int