Room to Learn: USAID’s new Investment in Haitian Education

Haiti is still healing from the 2010 earthquake and other shocks to its internal infrastructure. The international community has acknowledged the call for urgency and is acting to ensure that the education of Haitian children does not suffer on the road to recovery.

In Haiti, access to education and learning are not equally accessible. The main reason for unequal education access is the misallocation of resources between the rural and the urban areas. As a result, the rural population then becomes vulnerable to poverty conditions. Currently, Haiti has 500,000 primary-school aged children out of school. With the continued work and support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), national governments, and NGO’s the 500,000 children will become a part of the world community at school.

On November 5th, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, USAID Associate Administrator Mark Feierstein, and Senior Advisor Christie Vilsack announced a multi-million dollar program in Haiti for USAID’s Room to Learn.  

Room to Learn is an initiative of USAID to continue their Goal 3 commitment of their Education Strategy which is aligned with the Learning for All process. Ms. Vilsack noted that, “Room to Learn is about providing safe access to schools, rebuilding education systems, and preventing and mitigating the effects of conflict and crisis.”

The combination of the Room to Learn multi-year program with Haiti was announced by Secretary Duncan, Haitian President Michel Martelly, Haitian Minister of National Education Vanneur Pierre, and Associate Administrator of USAID Mark Ferierstein. While in Haiti, the group of USAID representatives and Sec. Duncan visited the Ecole St. Jean de Dieu, a school which provides education to vulnerable children.

“Investments in education can grow a nation’s economy and expand opportunities for its citizens. Leaders from both countries share a common desire to create high quality education systems for all that adequately prepare our children for success in their personal and professional lives” said Secretary Duncan in a USAID press release.