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Haiti - Education : A gradual and in olidarity back to school in the Great South
The ceremony was held in the southern metropolis (Les Cayes) at the Sainte Anne school in the presence of Sofia Loréus, the Minister for Women's Affairs, responsible for coordinating government action in the southern department; of Bruno Maes, Resident Representative of UNICEF in Haiti; Jean Millord Dorval, Departmental Director of Education of the South and his assistants; of Marie Michèle Sylvie Rameau, Mayor of Les Cayes; UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Jeanjean Roosevelt and several hundred students.
The Minister of National Education said she was aware that this re-entry is not taking place under the desired conditions, as the damage caused by the earthquake is considerable, as the interventions to be made are colossal.
As part of her speech, the Minister recalled that the start of the school year in the departments severely affected by the earthquake will be gradual, the time to rehabilitate many schools. Stating "[...] in the meantime, schools whose premises have not been damaged are encouraged to welcome those no longer have buildings [...] a way of entering into this educational solidarity".
In addition, Minister Joseph announced that a program of educational reinforcement to help recover the hours of school lost in relation to their classmates in the rest of the country, will be launched for the students of the Great South with the support technical and departmental directorates concerned.
Despite the tragic post-earthquake situation, Mayor Marie Michèle Sylvie Rameau is convinced that "[...] the Great South will eventually recover if the central government provides the necessary resources, defines a strategic framework for actions and ends up creating, in support of municipal authorities and local civil society, an environment that allows populations to get back on their feet [...]"
Bruno Maes, Resident Representative of UNICEF, considers it good to carry out this return to school in the Great South, stressing "[...] every day outside the classroom puts children more at risk of violence, abuse, the worst forms of labor and forced migration" he remains convinced that "[...] the longer the children wait, the more difficult it will be to bring them back to school [...]". From his point of view, beyond learning, returning to school, especially after such a natural disaster, will also mean a friendly reunion and a return to normalcy in social life.
Samytha Therassant, Secondary 4 student, speaking on behalf of her classmates, in a spirit of solidarity, had a special thought for the students who will have to wait weeks before being able to return to school, hoping that thanks to the diligence of the authorities concerned, the patience of these schoolchildren will be rewarded.
After this ceremony, the Minister of Education visited two ongoing work sites for the establishment of semi-permanent structures to accommodate other students in a few days.
In Nippes, the back-to-school ceremony took place at the Lycée des Jeunes Filles of Miragoâne. Unanimously, the authorities have put forward the efforts of the Government to facilitate the return of children to school. Believing that the course will be maintained, the momentum reinforced in the idea of ensuring that this gradual return to school leaves no one behind. At the end of the ceremony, school kits were distributed to the students.
In Grande-Anse, the official re-entry ceremony took place at the Foyer Culturel Mgr Willy Romulus (Jérémie). Ecclesiastes Thélémaque, the Chief of Staff to the Minister of National Education, who presided over the ceremony, expressed his wishes for a successful school year.
According to Thélémaque, this is a gradual return to school which begins with psycho-social support for children and teachers . Simulation exercises are also planned in the classroom, in order to instill in the children responsible behavior in the event of another earthquake. While emphasizing educational solidarity, taking into account the extent of the damage noted in many schools in the department, Thélémaque indicated that the Ministry has two major concerns for this return to school, namely : to return the children to the school benches, but also to secure them against any possible disaster. Around 120 educational kits and 7,000 school kits were distributed to school administrators and students in the department, a distribution made possible thanks to support from UNICEF.