Educational planners in Haiti’s northern department uncover the realities of education

24 April 2019

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IIEP-UNESCO/Joe Antoine Jn Baptiste
Au cours d’une séance de travail sur le diagnostic du secteur éducatif Haïtien.

In Haiti’s northern department, nearly half of all first and second cycle primary-level students are over the legal age for their grade, according to available data.  One explanation for this is that children are slow to enter school. The level of internal efficiency is also worryingly low, with profound losses documented throughout the school cycle. 

These new findings were recently uncovered as part of a coaching session for several education officers based in Haiti’s northern department. Led by the Ministry of Education and Professional Development and with technical support from IIEP-UNESCO and with funding from the European Union, this activity was part of a larger project to boost educational planning and management capacities countrywide.

The coaching session, which took place during two days at the start of April 2019, helped the planners and technicians define new indicators related to educational access, participation, and internal efficiency. The planners are now applying the indicators to a local diagnosis of the educational system, an activity being replicated throughout Haiti as part of this three-year project to help foster stronger education plans and implementation for better educational outcomes. 

In addition to the high over-aged school population and low internal efficiency rate, the new indicators also led to the revelation that only half of the resources per pupil-year are used efficiently. 

"Repetition and being pushed out of the system are the two main factors that contribute to this situation. It is a major handicap for the system, which will have to be solved," said Mackenzy Blaise, one of the project’s coaches. 

The three education officers who received coaching - Denis Roosevelt (technician), Dérius Erick (planning manager), and Merla Christophe (technician) - calculated the over-aged student population based on a series of key indicators and data provided by the DPCE to the central Ministry. For the academic year 2018-2019, the northern department in Haiti has 286,650 students in the first two cycles at the primary level. They then calculated that only 53 percent of these students are of the right age, between 6 and 11 years old. 

"The very large number of over-aged students in the first two cycles of primary school is a serious problem in the northern department, and it must be solved as soon as possible if the system is to be effective and normal,” said Fedner Devalon, a second coach in the project. “After fully diagnosing the education sector, we must now interpret these new data, analyse them carefully, and then proceed to develop a strategic plan for this department, including a special programme for over-aged students,”

Merla Christophe said that the team of planners from the Departmental Directorates of Education will now be much more effective in their work as the coaching and diagnosis have enabled them to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the system, learn about educational priorities, and how to respond effectively. "This diagnosis,” Christophe added, “will help us determine which actions are likely to improve education for Haitian children.”