HAITI: Ongoing Professional Development Helps Rebuild Salesian-run Educational Centers
(MissionNewswire) Despite ongoing reconstruction and infrastructure improvements that are helping to rebuild Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. Over half of its population of 10 million lives on less than $1 per day, and approximately 80 percent live on less than $2 per day, according to the World Bank. Haiti continues to have significant needs in education, healthcare and nutrition.
Last year, more than 3 million Haitian children returned to school with 20,000 of them educated in Salesian-run institutions. The country’s educational system is continuing to rebuild after the earthquake destroyed 90 percent of schools and 60 percent of hospitals, killed thousands of people and left more than 350,000 injured.
For Salesians in the country, schools in Haiti fulfill an important socio-economic mission by providing a foundation of lifelong education for poor youth, teaching them valuable skills and trades to help them escape poverty and establish a sustainable livelihood.
Recently, three Salesians from Haiti, Father Seymour Musset, Father Victor Auguste and Father Pierre Yves Jorcelim, spent a week in Spain at two Salesian centers in Deusto and Pamplona, receiving training in professional development in order to manage professional educational centers in Haiti upon their return. This trip, along with other initiatives, is a step toward furthering professional development for teachers and administrators in Salesian-run schools in Haiti.
“Rebuilding Haiti has been as much about constructing new infrastructure as it has been about building professional capacity to help heal the people and provide new opportunities for education and workforce development,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Professional and technical training is essential for personal, social, economic and political development in all nations. Haiti’s success lies in its ability to educate poor youth and connect them with sustainable livelihoods.”
Salesians in Haiti are in the process of launching a strategic plan for the sustainability and growth of their schools, thanks to funding for the initiative by Caritas in Spain. Salesian-run educational institutions such as those in Lakou, Lacay and Timkatek care for street children, bringing them in off the street and offering them food, clothing, shelter and an education. These schools then work to reintegrate youth back into society through a variety of small economic initiatives.
In addition to schools, there are Salesian-run technical and vocational training centers throughout Haiti. Those in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding villages offer courses in a variety of professional fields such as catering, woodworking, agriculture and hotel management. Additional centers in Fort Liberté and Cap-Haitien specialize in the fields of health, agriculture, information technology, electricity and hotel management. All of these centers, as well as other Salesian-run programs in the country, focus on providing youth with the educational opportunities and social support they need to succeed.
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve education and workforce development for youth,” adds Fr. Hyde. “We accomplish this through improving the skill and capacity of professionals in existing programs and helping graduates overcome obstacles to enter the workforce.”
Salesians in Haiti remain focused on providing education and technical training to help break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to the Haitian people. They plan to continue their focus on professional teacher training and providing educational scholarships for the most disadvantaged, giving all youth access to educational opportunities.
World Bank – Haiti