ITIAH Angels for Learning Pilot ESL (French) Initiative
École Mère Louise School (EML) in Port-a Prince, Haiti, is home to more than 400 children and youth who seek opportunities for a quality education. Over 90% of schools in Haiti are privately owned by churches, nonprofit organizations, and individuals, thus making it almost impossible for families to educate many of their children. Parents are responsible for out-of-pocket responsibilities for tuition and all school supplies. These fees are expensive and can cause parents to make choices on whether or not to educate their children or provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical attention.
Data from a 2020 U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) study reported that roughly 85% of children are enrolled in primary schools. While this is an improvement from a 2019 study, the number is still low compared to school-aged children in the United States and other countries. Another USAID study revealed that roughly 75% of children at the end of the first grade and nearly half of students finishing second grade could not read a single word. In addition, the report revealed that only 61% of the adult population is literate, making it even more difficult to maneuver in an already competitive economic system. Bridging the gap to an effective education is often difficult due to lack of government funding for adequate supplies, student tuition assistance, language barriers, and the need for improved teacher education.
Partnership with IAFL
(EML) has partnered with ITIAH Angels for Learning (IAFL), a nonprofit organization in New Jersey. Through fundraising initiatives and donations, IAFL has been able to provide tuition assistance to 40 students at EML. Additionally, volunteer medical specialists and the organization’s medical committee members have initiated a health program for female students.
To improve students’ academic success in literacy, writing, and mathematics, IAFL is in the preliminary stages of developing an after school/summer online French curriculum that will assist in closing the language barrier gap. National tests are administered in French; however, students tend be fluent in Creole, the first recognizable language. Data from current student report cards indicate lower achievement scores in language and literacy acquisition as opposed to other areas of study. While several areas of academic concentration yield acceptable scores, it important to recognize that these scores are still below the norm when compared to students of similar chronological ages and grade levels in competitive countries.
Seeking Grants, Sponsorships and donations
IAFL is in the process of seeking grants for laptops for individual students; an online French software program; and hardcopy textbooks and workbooks for EML’s afterschool/summer program for 30 students in Grade Three. Research data indicates that language development is an early learning process that shows greater progress in younger children. The language program will be administered in a scaffolding process so that skills can be mastered before moving to the next level. Skills are interrelated and interdependent. Additionally, students will, through age-appropriate activities and incentives, be exposed to group and independent opportunities, online assessments, and cultural connection. Teachers participating in the pilot program will undergo intensive training from software company representatives and support from a local nonprofit in Haiti. Teachers must be able to train and assist their students throughout the program. Students completing Phase One in Grade Three will be ready to move to Phase Two in Grade Four. It is IAFL’s vision that students will move throughout the program yearly from Grade 3 to Grade 7.
By Magnolia Brown