As Haiti goes through one of the most difficult periods in its history, we must consider the link between stability and education because stability is an essential element of an environment that is conducive for education. Yet sadly, over the past few years, the socio-political and economic situation of Haiti has deteriorated, and this situation affects all spheres of the country. For example, the country has experienced very high rates of internal migration. According to the latest assessments conducted by the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), more than 113,000 Haitians were internally displaced between June and August of 2022. Most of these displaced people are from the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, but 17,000 people are still displaced in the departments of South and Grand’Anse (where Thrive Ansanm is based), due to the devastating August 2021 earthquake that struck these areas. As of August 2022, Haiti’s total displaced population consisted of 24,000 people living in 71 displacement sites, including 36 sites located in Port-au-Prince, and 35 sites in the South and Grand’Anse. The other 89,000 displaced people were residing within host communities.
This massive displacement is a terrible humanitarian crisis, but the suffering doesn’t end there. Calm more or less reigns in the provincial towns, but many of them, especially in the South and Grand’Anse, are left with the burden of hosting these displaced people despite their already struggling economies. Furthermore, insecurity in Port-au-Prince has the immediate effect of rising inflation which reduces the purchasing power of families, making it difficult to pay for the education of their children. Because the country’s economic activities are centralized in Port-au-Prince, most vendors in the south purchase their inventory in Port-au-Prince, but many small vendors no longer risk going to Port-au-Prince because some of the roads are controlled by gangs. This deteriorating economic situation has resulted in more parents applying for Thrive Ansanm scholarships for their children, so now we have a long and growing waiting list.
Not only does this economic situation make it difficult for families to pay for their kids to go to school, but data suggests that it is also negatively impacting the performance of students who are in school. Sadly, according to the latest figures from official and Baccalaureate exams, the country is undergoing an education crisis. For example, in the department of Grande’Anse, only 1,400 out of a total of 3,678 students passed their government exams to graduate high school, a success rate of 38.06%. In other words, over 60% of graduating seniors in Grand’Anse failed to graduate.
“This climate of insecurity and poverty has far-reaching effects such as an increase in community violence, higher rates of delinquency among young people, and a difficult to quantify but very real negative psychological impact on students living in this troubled environment.”
I am convinced that this devastatingly low success rate is largely the result of the socio-political and economic situation. This climate of insecurity and poverty has far-reaching effects such as an increase in community violence, higher rates of delinquency among young people, and a difficult to quantify but very real negative psychological impact on students living in this troubled environment. We have also seen an increase of absenteeism among teachers. Some teachers commute a considerable distance to teach, and therefore, may not have enough money to pay for transportation. They may also be concerned about violent clashes on the routes they traverse for their commute. In some cases, the teachers haven’t even been paid for months because their school has limited cashflow since so many parents don’t have money to pay on time or in full.
“Yet, despite the difficult economic and socio-political climate and the corresponding low success rate of students, Thrive Ansanm students had a 99% success rate this year.”
Yet, despite the difficult economic and socio-political climate and the corresponding low success rate of students, Thrive Ansanm students had a 99% success rate this year. This is a testament to the determination of our students, the quality of our mentors, and the effectiveness of our framework that provides education, mentoring, and access to resources and technology. Yet, we can’t take all the credit because none of this would be possible without our generous donors. As native Haitian, and a resident of Jeremie, I am grateful to each donor who is partnering with us to invest in the lives of young people here in Haiti. Together we will continue to empower young people in Haiti to thrive.