Room to Learn Program to make Public Education a Reality

The government of Haiti (GOH) has been talking for years about making public education free and accessible for all school-age children. But the steps toward that goal have yet to be actualized. Monies deposited in the Education Fund (EF) have oftentimes been used for other purposes. The latest attempt at creating a free school system in Haiti has come through the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) $15 million grant to increase literacy rates, which are now at 50%.

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US Education Sec. Arne Duncan in Haiti

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, flew to Haiti on a visit to join Mark Feierstein, USAID's Associate Administrator, and President Michel Martelly, to announce the inception of the Room to Learn program, an international initiative to make education more available to children world-wide. Haiti has been chosen as one of six target nations for this program. Christie Vilsack, USAID's International Education Senior Advisor, said the goals of Room to Learn are to ensure children in conflict- and crisis-ridden areas get safe access to schooling.

Arne Duncan visited Vanneur Pierre, Haitian Minister of National Education, and expressed his gratitude for all Pierre has done to offer a public education to every Haitian child. President Martelly has also been recognized for his commitment to provide mandated access to education for all. But for the GOH to allow the legislature to dip into the EF for their pet projects is not advancing the goal. And Martelly is not putting his foot down to stop them from doing it.

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