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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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sustainability in the midst of change: Haiti after the resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe

Change is a certainty in life.

Sustainability not so much.

This weekend, after much pressure, Haiti's Primer Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned. The opposition parties had been demanding his resignation in the midst of election delays. For more, see this Miami Herald story:

'We did all we could for...'

Over the past few years, my observation has been that Haiti has seen much positive change. In the educational sector, I have seen many new public schools. I have been in classrooms where the student:teacher ratio is clearly better than a few years earlier. A new teacher certification initiative has been started. These observations have been supported by reports such as one by the World Bank which indicates that extreme poverty has decreased.

Of course, much more needs to be done.
  • 100 students in a high school class is still far too many (five years ago, the same classroom had nearly 200 students)
  • The vast majority of students still do not graduate from high school
  • Adult literacy rates are still around 50%

However, the country is moving in the right direction. Early in my teaching career, I learned that we should "reward direction and not expect perfection." In other words, don't expect perfect student behaviour but reward it when it is moving in the desired direction.

Of course, this has me thinking about how to ensure the continued movement in the right direction in the midst of change in Haiti.

Haiti remains a fragile state. Despite significant accomplishments since the 2010 earthquake, the structures that support these accomplishments are precarious. Good governance, at both the macro level (e.g. national institutions such as the Ministry of National Education) and the micro level (e.g. local governments, NGOs, social entrepreneurs) is key now more than ever.

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