By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report
The second anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake has drawn attention this week to the needs of the country’s young people, and efforts to give them a future. But is this another case of too little, too late?
As our earlier blog post shows, there are reasons to be optimistic for Haiti’s reconstruction, with more children in school than before the earthquake. Even so, it is unacceptable that around one-half of children are still not in school. It is not enough to remember Haiti’s children only at anniversaries of the event. Efforts need to be ongoing and long-term.
Social media has been playing an important role this week in showcasing what different organizations have achieved, as a glance at the #Haiti2Year tag on Twitter reveals. PlanUK has ensured 31,000 children have returned to school, and CAREUSA has helped rebuild 20 schools. There are many other positive examples of NGOs giving children the opportunity to go back to school.
While such efforts are welcome, they are not building the education system that Haiti sorely needs. Recognizing the importance of education for the country’s reconstruction, a report by Oxfam mentions that President Michel Martelly’s new administration announced free primary education, but this is still a long way out of reach for many of Haiti’s children.
Clearly there were serious problems even before the earthquake, with the majority of children who were able to make it to school enrolled in private and NGO schools. But as some commentators noted soon after the earthquake, there was an opportunity to build a public education system that would benefit all children. This has yet to happen.
Sadly, the problems we highlighted in the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report have become a reality for Haiti. According to a report this week on The Guardian’s Datablog, only about half of the amount needed for Haiti’s reconstruction efforts has been delivered by donor agencies.
As the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, UNESCO’s Special Representative for Haiti, said on the occasion of her return to Haiti for the anniversary of the earthquake, “Investing in education, training, research, higher education is fundamental for a new social pact, for the rebuilding of Haiti on solid and sustainable bases.” Let’s hope that the next two years see greater progress towards building an education system for a new social pact.
Follow Pauline Rose on Twitter: @Pauline_RoseGMR
Photo: Children laid roses on a memorial in Port-au-Prince on Thursday as the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti commemorated the second anniversary of the earthquake. (UN Photo/Logan Abassi)