Training in Haiti: Overcoming challenges for the future of education

09 May 2022

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©UNICEF/Diaz Mercado
A school under construction in Port-Salut in Haiti's Southern Department (Sud), after the August 2021 earthquake.

Haiti’s education system is often under pressure – from instability, the pandemic, and natural disasters. Despite these difficulties, an IIEP-UNESCO project continues to adapt to changing realities on the ground with a tailored approach. The project has built an increasingly successful distance training for officials and technical staff from the Departmental Education Directorates (DDE), in collaboration with local coordinators. We look back on the training's pilot phase to see how it is evolving into the future.

Over the past three years, IIEP has designed an ambitious training and coaching programme to strengthen Haiti's capacity to plan and manage education, particularly at the deconcentrated level. The project initially focused on capacity building for the technical staff directly responsible for planning within the DDEs, through face-to-face training. It then evolved into online courses, open to other profiles, including departmental managers and staff likely to contribute to the design and implementation of operational education plans. IIEP is now providing at-distance guidance, with the help of a core group of experts in Haiti who have already been trained by IIEP. While this cascading training approach is beginning to bear fruit, many unforeseen events, such as the pandemic, initially disrupted plans and put forward logistical and technological obstacles.

Access to the Internet, getting to know the tools, coping with power cuts...

An introductory training course on educational planning was first organized online between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, involving some 100 officials from the departmental administrations. For this pilot project, more than a dozen professionals were involved locally. Computers and Internet subscriptions were made available to the teams, to enable them to access the online training from the DDE premises.

However, recurrent connection problems, fuel shortages, and security risks preventing travel to the office hampered the effectiveness of the training. 

"It was a difficult start, but we learned a lot technically and pedagogically. We had to quickly find solutions to guarantee access to the online courses and to re-mobilize the group," says Claire Thibault, who is coordinating the training.

The team made some important readjustments to the pilot course, helping to push the completion rate to over 85% for nearly half of the ten DDEs. As some regional disparities still persist, Thibualt says, “Closing the gap is one of our objectives for the next steps of the project.”

Choosing a hybrid formula

This experience laid the foundation for the second edition of this training course, which launched in mid-February 2022. Organized over 15 weeks instead of nine, like the pilot phase, the training course has been redesigned to facilitate connections from a smartphone with the provision of mobile data cards and group work sessions with departmental coordinators and local resource persons. The selection and information phase for participants was also redesigned to strengthen the impact of the training not only on an individual level but above all on an organizational level, for the benefit of each DDE.

"This experience shows that online training for deconcentrated staff is possible, under certain conditions. The local support of coordinators and resource persons is crucial. We observe a multiplier effect, with a strong feeling of ownership of what has been learned within the DDEs.

Hélène Bessières, Programme Specialist at IIEP

Aimed at a non-specialist audience on the technical issues of educational planning, this course entitled "Planning to Achieve" is concrete and practice oriented. On the one hand, it is based on existing tools in Haiti, developed by the DDEs in collaboration with IIEP throughout the project: the procedures manual, departmental diagnostics, and annual activity plans. On the other hand, it takes advantage of the IIEP Global Campus, which allows for a combination of individual activities (online courses, videos, quizzes) and group work (live remote sessions or face-to-face exercises).

Against the odd, over 150 staff from Haiti's departmental education directorates will have been trained in the fundamentals of educational planning by mid-2022.

"This training has allowed me to acquire new concepts in educational planning”

Marie Carmelle Cothière, Deputy Director of the DDE of the Northern department, is one of the 70 Haitian DDE staff who received a certificate following the pilot training. A year later, she volunteered to become a resource person for the second edition. Now, she is guiding a group of about ten people from her departmental directorate, along with the training coordinator, Erick Derius, who is in charge of planning at her DDE and graduated in 2020 from the IIEP's Education Sector Planning course (ESP). She shares her experience:

"This training has allowed me to strengthen my knowledge and acquire new concepts in educational planning. The four units of the course are important and I really liked the practical parts. The 4th unit, for example, deals with the role of the different stakeholders in the educational planning process at the DDE level. Following the training courses, and the appointment of our new departmental Director, collaboration between the various departments of our DDE has intensified. This allows us to be more efficient in our activities.

Today, I am glad to be one of the resource persons for the second training, because it is also a way to continue learning. The participants call me when they have difficulties. I motivate them to be serious about studying documents and audios, I make sure they meet the deadlines for individual and group assignments. If necessary, we take the time to explain. Here at the office, the Internet connection is sometimes lacking, but each person can work and learn with their local connection, from their mobile phone.

There is a conviviality because most of us know each other, we have already shared experiences within the DDE. This resource person function is really useful.”

Wider technical support in Haiti

Initiated in 2018, IIEP's technical assistance project in Haiti aims to improve strategic planning and management practices in the education administration. While the ten departments that make up Haiti now have new responsibilities as part of the process of deconcentration of public services, particular attention is being paid to the DDEs, in addition to the support provided at central level. These ten departmental directorates have a key role to play in implementing national education reforms and adapting them to their local context. However, they must be able to analyze and plan their own needs. This means involving their internal departments in this process: the human resources department, the primary and secondary school inspectorate, the examination office, the newly created planning, and technology department, etc.

"This tailor-made training programme seeks to gradually move the Ministry of Education, the DDEs and their technical departments towards increasingly strategic educational planning and management practices.

Hélène Bessières, Programme Specialist at IIEP

These tailor-made training activities are part of a broader support to the Haitian government, including the completion of the National 10-year Education Plan 2019-2029. The three-year operational plan for 2024-2026 is intended to be based on the annual activity plans produced, for the first time, at the level of each DDE by departmental staff trained and accompanied since 2020 by IIEP. It is therefore a question of integrating departmental needs into the operational tools driven at central level.

What is the situation of education in Haiti?

Significant progress has been made over the past decade in providing access to education for all in Haiti. However, the best available estimates are pre-pandemic. They show an enrolment rate that has risen by ten percentage points to 78%, despite a sharp increase in the school-age population. The gap between boys and girls has reduced at the basic level and more children are participating in pre-primary and secondary education. However, major challenges remain and there is still a long way to go to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Find out all our resources and publications on Haiti.

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