News / Americas

Schools Officially Reopen in Earthquake-Ravaged Haiti

Haitian schoolchildren, 05 Apr 2010
Haitian schoolchildren, 05 Apr 2010

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

Children in Haiti are finally heading back to school, following the earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation on January 12. The Ministry of Education announced just last week that all schools had to reopen on Monday, and school districts across the country have been scrambling to meet the deadline.

At 8 o'clock on the dot Principal James Polot lines up his students for the start of the school day.

Like many schools around the world, the day begins by raising the flag to the national anthem.  But this is no normal day.  For the students of the George Washington School in Port-au-Prince, it is the first day of school since the earthquake that devastated Haiti more than two months ago.

Principal Polot told us that the Ministry of Education has mandated that the curriculum during the first two weeks be about the earthquake.

He told us teachers will not only talk about quakes and aftershocks, but what to do when they happen because in Haiti an earthquake can strike at any time.

There also will be time for students to tell personal stories and about the traumas they have lived through.

Not all schools are ready to open.  The Republic of the United States High School was still under construction a few days before the scheduled opening.  

Architect and engineer Jocelyn Laurnt said he was probably a week or more from completion.  There has been a shortage of building materials in the country, especially wood.

At the Small Borders of Jesus School, students and teachers were happy to see one another after the long break.

Principal Roland Fils Duclervil said he has received no assistance or instructions from the Ministry of Education.  He said he heard about the school opening on the radio like everyone else.  

He told us there would be no classes today, just a chance for school personnel to meet and plan a course of action.

We walked through a neighborhood and saw many children not in school.

Daniella Marclen has two children.  She said she has no money to prepare their school uniforms, and has heard nothing from their school.

Officials acknowledge that with much of the country still in chaos, there is no way of knowing how many schools can actually open, or if children will be able to attend.  Since the earthquake, starting anything in Haiti is a slow cumbersome process.  But for many of Haiti's school children, today was a fresh start.  

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