UN agency and Haitian officials adapt curriculum for quake-affected pupils

UNICEF distributes early childhood development kits to a pre-school in Jacmel, Haiti

8 April 2010 – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Haitian officials have developed a special syllabus for 600,000 children that takes into account the trauma they experienced in the 12 January earthquake and the class time lost during the three months before some schools in the capital, Port-au-Prince, resumed this week.

“Under the new syllabus, education will be resumed in stages starting with psychosocial activities, such as singing, dancing and creative expression, to help children cope with the extreme stress they experienced as a result of the earthquake,” according to a UNESCO statement released today.

Children will also be taught about earthquakes as a natural phenomenon.

Regular lessons – such as reading and math – will resume a few weeks later. The Ministry of Education has planned an accelerated programme over 18 weeks to allow pupils to complete the school year, and extended the academic year until August.

“We have given priority to main objectives,” said Jackson Pleteau, Head of Secondary Education at the Ministry of Education and Professional Training.

“We defined a corpus of knowledge that pupils must master to complete the year. We also envisage deferring certain subjects to next year,” he added.

The revised syllabus was designed by UNESCO and the Ministry during a seminar held on 25 and 26 March.

UNESCO said it will post the syllabus online to make it available to all teachers in Haiti.

Some 38,000 students and 1,300 teachers and other education personnel lost their lives in the quake, which also destroyed more than 4,000 schools as well as the Ministry of Education’s headquarters, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Nearly 3 million students are believed to have had their schooling disrupted or halted altogether.

In Port-au-Prince, only a few schools have been able to open their doors and a limited number of students are returning.

UNESCO has said that rubble is still being cleared and tent classrooms are being set up to accommodate pupils.

In the Therese Rouchon School in the Turgeau neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, officials say wooden benches, exam papers and a blackboard are still visible from the rubble.

The school’s principal, Astrid Rouchon, told UNESCO that the Education Ministry would clear the rubble, provide materials and set up tents, and that she hoped the school could reopen later this month.


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