Last week I had the opportunity to visit an afternoon school for children than cannot afford to pay their school tuition to attend school. The school was formed by a neighborhood committee and is run by Jeffrery Dejean and Jean Robert Rejouis, two spirited and motivated individuals that saw too many children being kept at home or walking the streets, without the opportunity to go to school.
In Haiti over 85% of all schools are private: meaning that they are tuition funded schools. In addition to paying for tuition, students must also pay for school uniforms, textbooks, transportation, and other associated school costs. Even for students that attend the supposedly free public schools in Haiti, they have large associated costs that often prevent them from even having one single textbook for the duration of their school-year. Without a doubt, this makes it very difficult to learn a subject, never mind the inability to take the textbook home to complete homework or study lessons.
Jeffrery and Jean Robert have created an arrangement with a school that operates a morning program to use the school in the afternoons free of charge. The school currently enrolls children in grades 1-4 with children ranging in age from 6-22. Jeffrery and Jean Robert rely on fellow volunteers to teach the classes, and pay for school supplies and teacher materials out of their own pockets. They currently serve 42 children from the neighborhood, providing education for children that for many, is the first time for them to attend a formalized school.
It is a truly amazing program that Jeffrery and Jean Robert have created, but it was evident that despite their hard work there are still problems left to be solved, including providing each child with the necessary school supplies for everyday use. H.E.R.O. will begin to provide basic school supplies so that at least every child in the program will be able to participate in the daily instruction and homework assignments. It is our hope that with time we will also be able to provide more for the school and the children that it serves.
Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D