September 13, 2019

With the beginning of the  2019-2020 school year in Haiti this past Monday (September 8), we thought it would be interesting to you for us to explain general information about schools in Haiti as well as some school details about our children.

Though Haiti’s constitution states that education should be offered free to all people, they have never been able to reach that goal!  Statistics say that private schools run by various ministries and organizations account for at least 80% of the total enrollments.  That means that if a child goes to school, someone must pay the tuition, and many Haitian parents are not financially able to do this!

Formal education in Haiti begins with two years of Preschool for ages 3 & 4, Kindergarten for age 5, nine years of Fundamental Education (first, second and third cycles), and four years of Secondary Education (NS1, NS2, NS3, NS4).  When a child in Haiti is not able to begin Preschool at age 3 and continue through each grade, that child often struggles in the following years of school. Most of the children at SLM are behind in their grade level and have experienced some level of difficulty in school because they were not able to begin with Preschool.

School is difficult in Haiti. Requirements are very high. One reason school is difficult is because classes are taught in the French language. In the majority of homes, Haitians speak KreyĆ²l (Haitian Creole); therefore, children are being taught in a language that is not their first language! Jacques has observed that he has sometimes heard repetition from some of the children, but they clearly do not grasp the meaning of what they were taught.

A very important part of school in Haiti is the final exam process. In the United States, students pass from grade to grade based on their year-end average. In Haiti, students must pass a year-end FINAL TEST in order to progress to another grade the following year. The individual schools administer the year-end final test for MOST of the grades. The tests for grades 9, 11, and 12 MUST BE administered and supervised by the government. Those exams are normally three days long.

This school year, most of the SLM children are attending the large school at Christianville nearby our Children’s Home.  However, Micka, Compere, Nerlande, Alex and Abigaelle are attending Les Abeilles D’Aspam, which is a smaller school along the main road in Gressier. At this school, they will be able to receive increased individual attention. Our staff member, Harold, usually drives the children to and from school each day. Occasionally some of the older children stay after school to do extra work and then walk home.

You will notice in the “first day of school” pictures that all of the children are wearing uniforms.  This is actually a requirement of the Haitian government.  Each school chooses their own design and color of uniforms, and there are also different styles for each level of education. We hire a young seamstress to make the girls’ uniforms and a tailor to make the boys’ uniforms. We are happy to provide work for these individuals.

This year, the cost of tuition, books and uniforms has drastically increased over the previous school year. Inflation has increased by 20%. The cost of the fabric for uniforms tripled in price! In many families, parents have been unable to finish paying tuition from the 2018-2019 school year! This means the child cannot advance to the next grade because report cards are not issued when there is an outstanding bill.

Praise God, the majority of the current school expenses for the children at Source of Life Ministries were contributed by Pastor Jeff Riedel’s Haitian Christian Projects Ministry, and we are extremely grateful to them!!! Expenses were higher than expected this school year for two main reasons: skyrocketing prices due to inflation and because teams have been unable to travel to Haiti. In the past, visiting mission teams hand-carried donations of shoes and book bags to Haiti and eliminated the need for Source of Life to buy them. If you would like to help us replace the extra funds we “borrowed” from our own budget, please designate your donation as “School Expenses.” Donations can be given online by clicking the “Donate Here” button on our home page or by mailing a check or money order to: Source of Life Ministries, c/o Jacques Merine, P.O. Box 96, Hanover, PA 17331.

Please pray for the children as they begin this school year.  They need God’s protection and guidance. They need their minds to be quick to learn and their hearts to be willing to do their very best in the classroom and at home in doing homework. God bless each of you as you support Source of Life Ministries in Haiti with prayer, financial donations, and spreading the word about our work to your friends and family!