UN special envoy calls for overhaul of Haitian education system

UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti Michaëlle Jean

15 February 2011 – The Special Envoy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for Haiti is calling for an urgent overhaul of the country’s education system, which she says is the cornerstone of the impoverished nation’s future prosperity.

Michaëlle Jean made the request today as she presented UNESCO’s strategy before the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, which was set up in April 2010 to coordinate and oversee the recovery and reconstruction campaign following last January’s devastating earthquake.

The 7.0-magnitude quake claimed more than 200,000 lives and left 1.3 million more people homeless. Countless buildings, including Government facilities, hospitals and schools, were also destroyed.

“It is imperative to implement the National Pact for Education, which was developed by Haitian authorities in the world of education and endorsed by the President of the Republic. This plan lays the foundation for building an education system that is accessible, universal and offers quality instruction,” said Ms. Jean.

Haiti wants, among other things, to provide free and high quality education for all children from 6 to 12 years of age by 2015.

This is an ambitious goal, according to UNESCO, which noted that before the earthquake only one in five children had access to public school. A large segment of the population was deprived of education because parents lacked the financial resources to pay the registration fee.

The Haitian education ministry also aims to increase the proportion of students pursuing studies at the secondary and university level and provide literacy to 2.5 million inhabitants.

“Haiti can count on UNESCO in all its actions, whether it is capacity building or improving the quality of education through teacher training and curriculum development,” the Paris-based agency stated in a news release.

UNESCO said it is also ready to assist the Haitian Government in its areas such as science, communications and culture. It has already set up the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding of Haitian Cultural Heritage, reflecting its commitment to the protection of the country’s tangible and intangible heritage.

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