“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ―Nelson Mandela
It's no myth that the most powerful tool an individual can possess is their education. Education has the ability to empower a person to analyze their surroundings, to open the eyes of children to possibilities they never dreamed they would have, to take communities out of poverty and to develop leaders. For something so powerful and essential to creating a better world, it’s something easily taken for granted.
In Haiti over 50% of primary school age children are not enrolled in school. Because, at the primary level, less than 10% of schools are public. Because 30% of children able to attend primary school will not make it to third grade; and because 60% will abandon school before sixth grade. The population’s illiteracy rate is almost 60%., one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. One-third of girls over six in Haiti will never go to school. In Haiti education is not guaranteed; its privatized and too expensive for a population where 78% live on less than $2USD a day. We have seen the value education has to a family. We have seen the dedication and devotion parents, many of whom have never learned to read and write, have taken to ensure their children receive an education. We have seen a country make the collective decision that through education, their circumstances will change. When we decided to offer tuition free education to our community this year we saw the overwhelming response from students and parents, and we are happy to announce that we have facilitated an education for over 450 students aged 2 to 17 in our primary school.
For many of our students, for the first time in their lives, they will have the opportunity to receive an education. In a post earthquake world, where so much has already been taken from the Haitian youth, the one thing that can’t be taken away is their education. It’s our responsibility to ensure our students receive the best education we can provide. Its our responsibility to ensure we don’t repeat the statistics, that girls feel comfortable coming to school, and that more than 40% graduate from the 6th grade.
Institution Mixte Shalom des Freres was founded in 2003 in efforts to provide quality and low cost education to a rural population living in extreme poverty. Many of Ecole Shalom’s students are growing up in families with 8-16 children in some of the poorest regions of Haiti. Many students have lost parents and are living with relatives and neighbors. Often times parents and guardians can only afford to send one child in their home to school which leaves students suffering from inconsistent education or no opportunity for education at all. In Haiti where primary school is not guaranteed it also comes with high costs for books, clothing, and supplies. Students often times only attend a few years at a time, get pulled out of school to help family members on the farm or in business, or drop out due to poor quality of education, lack of teachers, and high costs.
Ecole Shalom des Freres graduated its first 6th grade class in 2012. Has two sessions of 1st – 6th grade (morning and afternoon) to accommodate the growing demand for students Has three levels of kindergarten and pre-kindergarten and places emphasis on early childhood education and head start programs. Ecole Shalom educates HAC's immediate community, focusing on improving education for the neighborhood where we operate. We have a strong parents network and focus on providing for the whole family, not just the student so they are nurtured at home and better able to succeed.