Plan Supports the 'Get Back to School' Campaign in Haiti
When the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12th it spared little. This included the education system in our two major program areas of Croix des Bouquets with a population of more than 300,000 and Jacmel with a population of over 145,000. When it came to responding not only was Plan ready, but willing to provide support to the Ministry of Education to rebuild the education system.
As part of the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Plan helped the school inspectors to visit schools and talk to school directors to determine how many were destroyed or damaged in the towns and villages where Plan is located. The numbers were devastating, in the south in and around Jacmel 27 schools are destroyed and 152 damaged.
Two teachers were killed along with sixteen students. More than 36,000 children now have nowhere to go to school. In Croix Des Bouquets and the surrounding areas of Beudet, Freres and Dolney the damage was even worse. Prior to the earthquake there were 487 public, private and community schools. After the earthquake, we found that 353 schools had been damaged or destroyed.
Despite having been affected by the earthquake themselves, many losing homes and their personal belongings the Plan staff are working hard to get children back to school. The first step has been to work with others. Plan regularly meets with partner organizations - the United Nations, international non-governmental organizations, local non-governmental organizations and the Haitian government all in an effort to coordinate our activities.
Plan has set up child friendly spaces to ensure that children at the youngest age have the opportunity to grow, are protected and receive the appropriate support to overcome any fears and anxieties that may have developed because of the earthquake. These spaces are critical for children as they ease their transition back to school.
Our biggest effort is to be ready for when school opens in April. Plan is working behind the scenes with the government of Haiti to develop communications materials and messages for teachers, school directors and children to offer post trauma support. We have visited many camps to find out how many teachers there are and to start hearing from the people about what their vision is for education. We have bought school tents, backpacks and received a generous donation of early childhood development kits from UNICEF to be ready for the children to return to school. In addition to setting up school tents, we are working to make sure there are toilets for children, hand-washing stations and that children are able to receive a nutritious meal. We are also getting ready to train teachers and working to support the Government of Haiti to rebuild schools.
Through all this work, Plan is making sure to keep children at the center of all that we do. The voices of these children are heard at all levels within the reconstruction process. From the collection of data to sitting around the table with donors and the Haitian government, young people are influencing the future direction of their country and of the education system. So at the beginning of April, as a country re-emerges from the rubble and teachers and school directors welcome children and their parents back to school, Plan will be there as we have for the last 37 years offering our support.
Donate today to support long-term recovery efforts in Haiti.