Haiti was ill-prepared to recover from the devastating, January 12, 2010, earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and left millions homeless. That’s because over the past few decades, 85% of its’ University graduates have departed the Island for far better opportunities in North America and Europe, and University enrollment is at an astonishing 1%. This confluence of factors has caused a dearth of Haitian professionals – doctors, nurses, architects and civil engineers to help care for, and re-build the devastated Island. The root cause of this systemic tragedy is something which most people take for granted – affordable, quality education for all children.
Haiti’s Constitution mandates that primary school education is compulsory and free for all children, but the government has never had the resources to build enough schools to accommodate Haiti’s 2 million children aged 16 and under. Private enterprise has seized this opportunity, as 85% of schools in Haiti are privately-operated, with tuitions of $500. or more, which is far beyond the means of a typical Haitian family with annual incomes of $1,200.
The 2010 earthquake ravaged the Island, destroying 5,000 schools and exacerbated an already desperate situation. Parents wanting their children to receive a proper education to have a better life, watch helplessly as their children have to interrupt their schooling for up to 2 years to work full-time to earn their school tuition. The tragic result is 18 year old children often have progressed only to the 6th Grade, while shockingly, 60% of Haitian children drop out of school forever before the 5th Grade.
If these children continue to be deprived of receiving a basic education, what hope do they have of living a normal life where they have a career they enjoy that enables them to support their own young family? The quality of life that we take for granted is something that will never be experienced by the vast majority of today’s Haitian boys and girls because they face obstacles outside their control that are simply unfathomable for us.
That is why NexGenHaiti hopes people will be so touched, moved and inspired by the words and images on these pages they will want to share the possibility with their ‘social networks around the world that they can make a measurable, lasting difference in the lives of one, or many, of these wonderful Haitian children.
Thank you very much.
Donny Young – Founder