Education in Haiti

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas as per the Human Development Index.  The 2010 earthquake exacerbated the already constrained parameters on Haiti’s educational system by destroying infrastructure and displacing 50-90% of the students, depending on locale. The World Factbook reports a shortage of skilled labor, widespread unemployment and underemployment, saying, “more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs”, and describes pre-earthquake Haiti as “already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty.” Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day.

Over 50% percent of Haiti’s population is school age yet over half the population is illiterate. Many children cannot afford the costs of education in Haiti because the average family makes less than $1 a day. The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, of which less than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children.

The government does not provide adequate funding for public schools and most families cannot afford the costs of private education, which can be as little as
$20 a year. Hope for Haiti assists families who do not have the means to educate their children. We believe the best way to help fight poverty is to help the poor help themselves through educational opportunities.

Adult literacy is variously reported as 52.9% [World Factbook] and 65.3% [United Nations], and the World Bank estimates that in 2004 over 80% of college graduates from Haiti were living abroad, with their remittances home representing 52.7% of Haiti’s GDP. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 Haitian children to work as restavecs (unpaid household servants); the United Nations considers this to be a modern-day form of slavery.

Access to quality education remains key to Haiti’s social and economic development. The current state of education in Haiti, however, is not sufficient for the task. Surveys conducted by the UNDP indicate that Haitians who are 25 years and older received on average only 4.9 years of education and only 29 percent attended secondary school. These statistics show that a generation of Haitian youth is at risk for not having the necessary knowledge and basic skills to succeed in the labor force and contribute to the continued development of the country. Most schools in Haiti have minimal government support, lack qualified instructors, and are relatively expensive. Nongovernmental organizations, churches, communities, and for-profit operators, with minimal government oversight, privately manage more than 80 percent of primary schools. School expenses are often a significant financial burden for low income families. Half of public sector teachers in Haiti lack basic qualifications and almost 80 percent of teachers have not received any pre-service training

Formal education rates in Haiti are among the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti’s literacy rate of about 53% (55% for males and 51% for females) is below the 90% average literacy rate for Latin American and Caribbean countries.The country faces shortages in educational supplies and qualified teachers.

The rural population is less educated than the urban.[1] Haiti has 15,200 primary schools of which 90% are non-public and managed by communities, religious organizations or Non-government organizations (NGOs).