Digicel Foundation Haiti will improve both access to education and quality of education across the country with a particular emphasis on the primary level. Access will be improved through a construction program dedicated to providing infrastructure to existing schools in need, building additional infrastructure for schools desiring to grow their outreach, and refurbishing schools facing security issues.
School constructions and expansions will be selected through an application process in addition to requests received from the Ministry of Education in accordance with the priorities of the national plan. Applications, available for download on the Digicel Foundation website, will be used to qualify schools based on the following criteria: have a history of sustainability, be registered with the Ministry of Education, show proof of good governance, own the land on which the school will be built, and service children coming from low income families. The Digicel Foundation will also look to ensure that geographic diversity achieved, so that all ten departments are able to benefit from the program. Radio interviews will be conducted on an ongoing basis to ensure the public is aware of this opportunity and can be informed on how to apply.
Quality will be improved through the expansion of its teacher training program to include an additional 500 participants and through the implementation of libraries and IT labs in order to improve school resources dedicated to enriching education.
Participants in the teacher training will be selected from the schools that receive infrastructure from the Digicel Foundation. The training will focus on increasing capacity in fundamental skill sets, such as math, reading, writing, and oral expression, in addition to providing basic pedagogical mentorship. The training cycle will be approximately 18 months and will provide on average 240 hours of training per participant. This includes an intense three-week group summer training session at the commencement of the program followed by monthly five day in-service sessions for additional in classroom training, mentoring, and evaluation.
Libraries and IT labs will be awarded based on an application process and will be awarded on a merit basis.
The commitment will last 30 months. The construction program will commence in October 2014. The Foundation intends to commence one to two new construction projects each month depending on the period of the year and each project will take on average four months to complete. The teacher training program will commence in April 2015 with an estimated 250 participants. A second cohort will be added in April 2016 with approximately the same number of teachers.
According to the UNICEF Haiti Emergency Response Update published in March 2010, the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake destroyed an estimated 4,228 schools as well as the Ministry of Education building, and led to the deaths of around 1,347 teachers and 180 education personnel. This was in addition to the fact that even before the earthquake, one in two Haitian children were not attending schools, due to limited infrastructure, non-availability of teachers, and lack of funds to access education. A 2010 Plan/Oxfam report on education concluded that Haiti was the third worst country in the world to be a schoolchild. Nearly five years later, the gaps in the education sector still remain problematic despite efforts deployed by the Haitian government and numerous organizations working on the ground.
The Digicel is open to financial support and sharing best practices with organizations working in the same sector.
The Digicel Foundation is open to partnership with organizations that are supporting schools but require assistance with new infrastructure.