In June, NHSI volunteers had the opportunity to travel to Laguille, Haiti to visit with a primary school we have been supporting for the last several years. The trip provided us a chance to assess the progress of the school, reflect on their successes, and have candid conversations about the investments needed to continue improving educational quality and outcomes.
Members of NHSI have been traveling to Northern Haiti since 2005, initially partnering with other non-profit organizations to help build schools. Through those experiences, it became apparent that many schools in Haiti had no long-term plans for sustaining their daily operations, which was adversely impacting educational quality. Common issues included inconsistent payment of teacher salaries, if at all, leading to high teacher turnover and oversized classes; very few school lunches being served; no safe source of drinking water; and insufficient classroom materials (e.g. books for students or curricular materials for teachers). As a result of these initial lessons learned, NHSI was formed to provide financial, logistical, and educational resources these schools need to function.
During our recent trip, we witnessed several incremental improvements, including:
Reduced teacher turnover thanks to consistent, timely payment of wages
Marked reduction in malnutrition in students due in part to the implementation of a weekday meal program
Better student hydration due to the recent upgrade to the water well distribution line
In addition to continued support for these initiatives, NHSI worked with school and community leaders on immediate plans for the year ahead, identifying additional areas for continued improvement. These include:
Review of student assessments showed mixed results in child literacy achievement at most grade levels
Review of student attendance showed room for improvement in absenteeism, particularly at the beginning and end of each semester
In-depth discussions with teachers identified areas for continued professional development that NHSI endeavors to support in the coming years.
Intermediate plans for the 2017-2018 school year include obtaining non-academic reading materials to motivate students to practice reading outside the classroom, and the introduction of additional education materials within the classrooms.
While the Laguille community and NHSI remain optimistic for the year ahead, all recognize there is significant work remaining to achieve improved and consistent educational results.