In Haiti, Community is Key to Transforming Education

Filed under Education

By recruiting a new generation of teachers, Anseye Pou Haiti works with communities to build a better Haiti.

Forty-three percent of the Haitian population are children under 15 years old, yet the average child in Haiti completes only five years of formal education. Anseye Pou Ayiti (APA), a partner of global education organization Teach For All, hopes to change these statistics by transforming the country's education system.

By recruiting and training a new generation of Haitian teachers who are also community leaders, APA's mission is to ensure that Haitian children not only complete primary school, but go on to pursue secondary education and ultimately contribute to the community and achieve their full potential in life. While some teacher recruits are former teachers, others bring skillsets from other fields, with various backgrounds modeling different viewpoints and valuable life experience in their classrooms.

Outcomes for the young program are already promising: For students taught by APA teachers, the overall student passing rate in spring 2016 was over 80%, nearly three times higher than the regional average of 30% in rural communities.

An APA classroom at Ecole La Petite Orchidée in Mirebalais, Haiti.

The country's complicated social and political history, catastrophic natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake, and longtime struggles with poverty have left the education system riddled with challenges in both access and quality. It goes without saying that these challenges disproportionally affect children from low socio-economic groups and those from rural areas. Instead of preparing young people with the skills to become contributing members of society, the system stifles their potential, in turn stifling the development of society itself.

Teacher leader Markenson Petit Maitre in his classroom at Ecole La Petite Orchidée in Mirebalais, Haiti.

Since 2015, APA has partnered with Teach For All, the global network of organizations with a shared vision of expanding educational opportunities in their countries. In only nine years, Teach For All has developed programs in 42 countries across the world, with a common thread that transforming education requires strong leadership from within the community and buy-in from all stakeholders.

The cornerstone of APA's mission is to find leadership talent within its own communities, recruiting local Haitians as teachers, many of whom were raised in or are returning to their communities (APA partner communities) in rural, underserved areas. APA has a mixed cohort approach of recruiting existing and new teachers for its fellowship. Like most Teach For All teachers, APA teacher leaders see themselves on a mission to bring the craft of teaching to peers within their schools and beyond.

APA received 440 eligible applications for 35 slots in the 2016 cohort. The group included top young professionals, existing teachers, and university graduates. More than 1,400 students were directly impacted by APA teacher leaders in the 2016-2017 school year.

43% of the Haitian population are children under 15 years old.

To design the foundation of APA's mission, CEO and Co-Founder Nedgine Paul Deroly engaged with local stakeholders to discuss what a successful education system would look like and, more importantly, what it would mean for the development of their children. What skills and values must they learn to become productive members of society?

Grappling with these questions resulted in a collective vision that the entire community could stand behind. Instructional strategies are grounded in the appreciation of "the three C's": culture, customs and community.

Negdine Paul, CEO and co-founder of APA, with two of the program’s teacher leaders.

Believing that children cannot be taught separate from their culture, APA incorporates Haiti's native Kreyol language into classroom teaching and learning. The use of storytelling, songs, games, the role of elders, and community leaders are all part of the learning process. Students in the classroom are encouraged to collaborate–they learn from the teacher and then work in groups to teach each other. The same strategy is employed among teacher leaders: by learning to collaborate and teach one another, successful practices are passed on to more and more teachers.

In community, APA hopes to create a new narrative of a Haiti that is for Haitians and by Haitians, centered around "new institutions who see, agree, and act on education equity as the foundation for real freedom and social justice."

The Anseye Pou Ayiti program encourages children to work in groups to learn and solve problems together.

Classes are taught in the Haitian native language of Kreyol.

Education is highly valued in Haitian culture: despite any economic challenges at home, the highest proportion of families' disposable income is directed towards children's education.

APA is concentrating the program in rural communities where there is the greatest need for quality education in underserved primary schools. Within a five-year period, their goal is to equip and graduate teacher leaders who will impact 16,000 students in Haiti. By going deep into rural areas, APA is able to generate proof points of community-level systemic change.

As a result of the 2010 earthquake, most of the central historic area of Port-au-Prince was destroyed.

In a country facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, APA is building up teachers who can build up their peers, their students, and the infrastructure of the education system. Ultimately they'll build a better country, by Haiti and for Haiti, together.

Learn more

Learn more about Teach for All, the global network of organizations dedicated to improving education through community involvement.