Rebuilding Haiti through Education

by Kristal Bivona

Over two years after its devastating earthquake, Haiti is still in the midst of reconstruction and recovery. Last month, the first conference dedicated entirely to recovery through education, HaïtiÉduc’2012, brought together educators and experts from around the world to focus on rebuilding the Haitian education system. Seminars took place in different regions of the Caribbean nation and participants had the chance to reflect upon recovery efforts and collaborate to discuss and contemplate new approaches.

Haïti-Éduc’2012 focused on all levels and aspects of education, including technology, economics, professional development, health, leadership, citizenship, distance learning, and the environment. The ultimate goal was to uncover strategies that will help make education the driving force of a new Haiti. The main questions that drove discussion were how to use the outside world to inspire children to become intellectually curious learners; how to forge partnerships between government and the private sector to produce a more educated and skilled work force with the goal of making Haiti more competitive globally; and how to make education and vocational training more accessible to underserved communities in Haiti.

To address accessibility and education, Le Centre de la francophonie aux Amériques launched the educational radio station, Radio Jeunesse in Haiti during the colloquium. By offering educational material for children over the radio, which is free to access, young Haitians can be exposed to engaging and informative, age-appropriate programming. Radio Jeunesse offers educational programs that cover local music, poetry and stories, sports, science, technology, and interviews.

Imagining education outside of the traditional classroom is a key aspect of delivering education to Haitian students during the rebuilding of infrastructure and reorganizing of institutions. Radio Jeunesse is an example of the public manifestation of educational reconstruction that international collaborations like Haïti-Éduc’2012 are promoting.