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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, July 20, 2016

Teacher professional development in a fragile state: Haiti

The 2016 Fragile States Index was released recently. This scale, based on 12 criteria areas, ranks the world's countries according to their "fragility". To be #1 in this ranking is not a good thing. It essentially means that your country is in very poor shape.

To see the rankings and the criteria area, click here: The Fund for Peace Fragile State Index 2016

Haiti is ranked 10th, right between Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a very poor showing and consistent with where it has been ranked for years.

This has really made me think: How can we support improved teaching practices, and therefore improved student learning outcomes, when there are so many significant challenges and obstacles?

There are a three key aspects to our work in Haiti that gives me hope:

1. We have deliberately focused on fostering healthy partnerships. We have invested deeply in long-term and trusting relationships with a mindset of reciprocity/resipwosite (Creole).
2.  We have deliberately focused on supporting social and human capital at the local level. We do not provide a North American model of how education should be "done" but work with local Haitian educators to understand how they can implement teaching methods and resources that will engage students to be change agents in their own communities.
3.  We have deliberately focused on building capacity. We are working with school leaders who already have significant capacity and a vision for change in Haiti. We are supporting the equipping of these educators so that they might reach others.

This provides a sustainable and effective model of teacher change. As the outcomes of this model "ripple out" we envision that, over one or two generations, the fragile nature of Haiti will change. It is not a quick fix but it will lead to a better future.

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