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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cap-Haitien Educational Leadership Research Network

Today, we flew to Cap-Haitien from Port au Prince. We were met at the airport by the North Department Director of the Ministry of Education (MENFP), Justin Metelus, who was a student I supervised for his Master of Education degree. He is very passionate about re-envisioning education in the north of Haiti (also the subject of his M.Ed. thesis). As the Director, he oversees education for the entire North Department, one of 10 government regions in Haiti. As you can imagine, he is a significant person in the region. I would guess that his Blackberry rang at least once/minute and everywhere we went, people knew him.

Justin toured us through two public elementary schools and one high school (he founded this school - now with 5,000 students studying there). We also had a chance to meet at this office and discuss a partnership between WLU and MENFP. He is very eager to do this. As we talked, it was clear that he thought a conference would be a good way to get 50 of the top educators from the region together to discuss how to "re-imagine" education in the north of Haiti. I will take the lead with securing funding for such a conference and he will take the lead with inviting appropriate people and setting the agenda. I anticipate that the conference will take place over a weekend in April or May and I will bring a team of educational leaders from Canada to participate.

As we talked with school principals today, I was reminded of the basic (but so easily forgotten in our Cdn context) need to feed children. When I asked the two elementary principals what their number one need is, they both said feeding children. It seems that the World Food Programme which began after the earthquake is no longer providing food for children in Cap-Haitien. This was a real enticement to send children to school - they would be fed. However, the principals said that it's hard to get children to come to school when they are needed at home to help with bringing in an income so the family can have food.

Canteens are built at schools but there is no money for food.  We have much to be thankful for in Canada. Although we have families who have similar needs, there are significant initiatives to meet these basic needs.

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