Preschool is more expensive than elementary school, in part because of the cost of paying higher qualified teachers. All of our teachers are required to be high school graduates and to complete continuing education seminars each school year. But our head preschool teacher has to have an additional certificate of qualification from a three-year trade school. This training enables our head preschool teacher to manage the other preschool teachers and oversee the entire preschool curriculum.
Elementary school comprises grades 1 through 6. Students move through the grades based on when they complete them rather than their age. Some students in our 6th grade are teenagers or young adults, for example. This happens when there is an interruption in their schooling, usually due to a lack of money or when students have to go to work to help feed their families, or if they have trouble passing grade-level exams due to poor attendance or learning difficulties.
Our elementary school curriculum includes Creole and French (by 2nd grade, all school books are in French except those used for Creole lessons). In addition to language studies, we teach math, science, history, social science, reading, writing, health/hygiene and Bible/devotion. We also offer recess where running and playing are encouraged (Haitians do not have physical education classes).
Haitian education depends heavily on rote memorization, which can be difficult for students who do not learn well that way. There are also no resources to assist students with learning disabilities. This means that some students are unable to pass beyond a certain point in their education. And in order to complete elementary school, students must pass a national exam, which can be difficult to do.
Once they pass the exam, students can go on to junior high school. In our village, only about 50 percent of the students who pass 6th grade go on to junior high. This is an improvement over when we first started operating our school, but of course our long-term goal is to make it possible for all students to continue their education.
One of the barriers to higher education is cost, none of which is covered by the Haitian government. It costs $60 per year to educate a student in our school, but it costs $250 per year for junior high. Another barrier is location. The nearest junior high school and high schools require students to walk as much as 1.5 hours each way to attend.
If/when our funds exceed our school’s operating costs, we would like to provide scholarships to enable students to continue their education; eventually we may even add junior high classes to our school. This is a long-term goal. (Learn how you can donate to our school.)
A Typical Day For Our Students
Here’s an example of our daily school schedule, Monday through Friday:
- 7:30 a.m.: School starts with a schoolwide flag-raising ceremony, followed by a devotion for each class.
- 8:00 a.m.: Classes start
- 10:30 a.m.: Recreation and a meal
- 11:15 a.m.: Classes resume
- 11:30 a.m.: Preschool dismisses
- 1:30 p.m.: Grades 1-6 dismiss
Our school also recognizes several Haitian and Christian holidays, including:
- Battle of Vertières Day (November 18)
- New Year and Haitian Independence Day (both on January 1)
- Carnival (we modify our celebration so that it’s appropriate for children and Christians)
- Christ’s Resurrection (we don’t celebrate Easter in the same way people do elsewhere in the world)
- Agriculture Day (May 1)
- Flag Day (May 18)
We believe education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in Haiti. As such, we are actively looking for more partners to help fund our school and expand our educational programming. Please consider donating to help cover the cost of teacher salaries, textbooks, school supplies, uniforms, our feeding program, repairs/maintenance costs and other school expenses.
Thank you for investing in the lives of our students!