Many people welcome the willingness of the head of state to make education a priority of his government program. Would not it also be an opportunity to enhance the status of teachers in the country? For the 60,261 teachers operating in basic education, 79% (or 47,678) received no initial basic training. About 40% of those 79% do not have the academic level of the ninth year of basic education. And what does this say about schooling across the country?
Haiti: Michel Martelly has announced that 250,000 children will go to school free beginning the next school year, scheduled for October 3, originally scheduled for September 5. During a visit Thursday to Mirebalais, the president said that 100,000 children already integrated into the education system will attend 200 facilities for free in Port-au-Prince. Similarly, 141,000 others will go to school for the first time in their lives.
A concern about this laudable initiative is the capacity of schools, and the problem of qualified teachers for the education of all children. According to the report of the Working Group on Education and Training (GTEF) entitled “For a national agreement on education in Haiti”, submitted in August 2010, to former President Rene Preval, it was stated that of the 60,261 teachers working in basic education, 79% received no initial basic training. About 40% of those 79% did not have the academic level of the ninth year of basic education.
Others, the report says, are university trained (2,789 or 4.84%), normal school trained (6,136 or 10.64%) and “Capista”, that is to say, holding a certificate for teaching (3,658 or 6.34%). Less than 35% of pre-school teachers have the skills to do their job and only 14.62% of those at the basic level have the needed academic and professional skills required.
“But over the last twenty years, there has been a lot of money invested in training teachers and principals in Haiti in the form of seminars, through projects and programs funded by the international community. The problem is that these training hours were not administered in a systematic manner, according to a well established plan,” says the report.
“The question now is to determine which mechanisms to establish, first, to provide adequate initial and continuing training of teachers at all levels of education, and attract on the other hand, more people to this career often identified as very difficult and unrewarding,” says the document. Additionally, working conditions are not attractive to professionals with qualifications for teaching.
What kind of schools should be teaching what kind of citizen and for what country?
Indeed, members of the presidential commission – which was coordinated by Professor Jacky Lumarque, president of the University Quisqueya – admit that in all countries that have managed to improve their education, the enhancement of the status of teachers is a strategic requirement. According to them, the question that is on the agenda in Haiti is — what school arrangement should produce what citizens for which country?
“The type of citizen that we choose to train is in fact a response to the kind of society we choose to produce. In this sense, the true vision of society in the country is largely determined by its educational program,” says the commission, which was started by Rene Preval.
The problem of school provisioning
Moreover, apart from the issue of teachers, poor distribution of school provisioning in the territory is one of the main causes of poor access of school-age children to school. The GTEF recommended that the national education policy be extended to a gradual increase of public offering of education.
“Currently there are 143 communal sections devoid of public schools, of which 23 have no school at all; in additional, these communal sections correspond to those most disadvantaged in terms of social amenities,” says the document.
There is work to do because it will be necessary to support school provisioning where the demand is expressed or demanded.
See original French version: http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=96470&PubDate=2011-08-26