ESSE supports a sustained educational human values programme in Haiti

Haiti, where education is still a luxury for many

Some 10 million people live in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. Education, which is the most effective way to combat poverty and hunger, to improve health and wellbeing, to generate growth, and to promote responsible citizenship, is expensive in Haiti.

Almost all Haitian schools are private; there are only a few public schools in the whole country. The result is that only 50% of the children go to school. Many attend only sporadically.

Education as a driving force for a better future

The ESSE Institute is supporting two primary schools in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti. This work began right after the dramatic earthquake in 2010, when a number of volunteers travelled to Haiti and remained active there for over five years. In 2011, a school named ABC for Life, was opened with more than 80 children, most of whom had never or very sporadically attended school. A second elementary school, the Ecole Mixte de la Nouvelle Jérusalem, started in 2009 with 80 children in tents on a vacant lot.

Education is indispensable to build a better life, but at least as important is the opportunity it offers to develop our human potential and talents. Hence, in addition to the regular curriculum, the ESSE programme is geared to help each child develop his/her character based on the inherent human values. At the two supported schools, children from very poor backgrounds receive free pre-school and primary education.

Training the Teachers

In addition to the active support provided to the schools by a number of ESSE volunteers since 2011, several trainings in Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) have been held in Haiti for the teachers and interested youth. The five human values: truth, right action, peace, love and nonviolence and the associated aspects such as compassion, respect, helpfulness, integrity and honesty are part of every human being. The goal is to bring these qualities to the forefront and to practice them. Practice will yield human excellence. In Haiti, the percentage of teachers who receive official training for the role is very low. So, the SSEHV training provides a great opportunity to develop personal skills and insights, teaching methods with educational and playful value-based activities, and tools to approach the regular school curriculum from these positive human values. In the summer of 2016, thirty Haitian teachers and volunteers participated in the SSEHV training and 200 children enjoyed the activities given by their own teachers under the guidance and supervision of the European volunteers. In the summer of 2017, a five-day intensive course for 47 teachers and youth was held in Port au Prince, and a 2-day introductory course for 27participants in the city of St Marc. In February 2018, follow-up trainings will be given to deepen the subjects and evaluate the practice. A Haitian human values committee has been established with a number of teachers from both schools to help spread human values education.

Making it possible for underprivileged children to take part in regular education, with special attention to the blossoming of human values for character development, completely free of charge, is truly unique in Haiti!

About the schools

The ABC for Life school currently has 65 pupils: kindergarten through 6th grade. Two kindergarten teachers and three primary school teachers are in charge of teaching the lessons, in classes with combined grades. While human values education is integrated in all aspects of the school, for example through the loving atmosphere and environmental awareness activities, the students all receive a special lesson on human values every Friday afternoon. On Saturdays, volunteers offer a 'Talent and human values club' for 40 neighbourhood children. A number of the youth from the original group in 2011 continue to run and support the school to this day. One of them has become a certified teacher, teaching at ABC for Life.

From a tent school facing numerous obstacles, the Ecole Mixte de la Nouvelle Jérusalem has now grown into a school with 200 students, thanks to the dedication of the director and the teachers. For seven long years, all the teachers did this work as volunteers. For the first time this school year, they received a small stipend. 70 children are in Kindergarten and 130 in the primary school. The director continues to work with the parents to convince them to send their children to school, notwithstanding the difficulties and poverty they face. A rented house and a covered courtyard serve as the school. Motivated by the desire to save children from crime and to help them through education, the goal is not only to teach the children to read and write, but also to love: to love oneself, the family, the community, the land and God. The director and teachers continue to work on human values education together and apply the principles throughout the school, creating an environment of love, support and attention.


Picture gallery (click to enlarge)