“Education is the movement from darkness to light.” – Allan Bloom
As we hear of the issues facing teachers in our public school system today – pay issues; student testing; school safety – I take my hat off to them.
They are true heroes in my book, and I am so glad the United Nations has set aside a day to honor them. That day is today.
Despite the stresses they face, teachers here in the U.S. do an amazing job to ensure that every student has a chance at a great education.
I wish this was true worldwide.
But, sadly, it isn’t. In the developing world, especially in places like Haiti, an education is not possible for every child.
Instead of looking forward to each new school year, some parents dread telling their children that they won’t have enough money to send some of them to school. The cost of uniforms, tuition or even testing fees are beyond what a family can afford for all of their children.
On top of that, the literacy rate in Haiti is a paltry 60 percent. This means that almost half of adults in the country cannot read or write. And only 5 percent of children who enter school in Haiti make it through to graduation.
The government is increasing its efforts to improve the education system, but progress is slow. With such a high rate of illiteracy, how much more valuable is an education for not just the educated individual, but the entire family?
And parents should never have to choose which of their children gets to go to school each year.
Organizations all over Haiti are working to improve the education system here.
Mission of Hope has created a curriculum that empowers more students to pass the national exams. Hope for Haiti’s Children opened a school to serve the children in their area. And the organization I work with distributes food to 15 local schools and is opening a school to serve children who are underweight and at high risk for inability to attend school.
These children are thrilled to have the opportunity to go to school. One girl in our program, 8-year-old Benita*, was the sole caregiver for her grandmother and younger brother, despite the fact that she was so severely malnourished that her own physical growth was stunted. This is an all-too-common symptom of the prevalent malnutrition here.
Now, three years later, Benita is at the top of her class – in addition to keeping up with all of her household responsibilities.
Education is one of the few ways to level the playing field for those on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. It allows children like Benita all over the world the opportunity to create the bootstraps they can use to pull themselves up.
This World Teachers’ Day, I encourage you to support education programs in Haiti and around the world that offer opportunities to children like Benita. She looks forward to going back to school each year. Kids all over the world should get the chance to feel that same excitement.
Devin Vanderpool is the Director of Communications for LiveBeyond, a faith-based non-profit humanitarian organization founded by David & Laurie Vanderpool in 2005 dedicated to providing clean water, medical care and adequate nutrition to the poorest of the poor. To learn more about how LiveBeyond is transforming lives in Thomazeau, Haiti, see http://livebeyond.org/blog/.