What kind of school is this? This is the kind of school children run towards each morning! Without the EcoVillage School, these children would have no school.
The EcoVillage school opened the first 3 classrooms in the fall of 2014. New classrooms and grades have been added each year. Today it serves 295 students from the 6 EcoVillages and surrounding rural area, teaching preschool through 8th grade in 9 classrooms. When this construction phase is completed, it will be a “fundamental school,” with 10 classrooms: preschool through 9th grade.
In September 2018, the school was granted accreditation from the Ministry of Education. Now called the National EcoVillage School, it qualifies for educational and financial support from the government. Now, students proudly wear the blue uniform of National Schools, signifying that they are receiving a quality education.
Only nationally certified teachers are in the classroom. Classes follow the curriculum established by the Ministry and are taught in the language of the children –Kreyol (Creole) – while they learn French, which is the official language of government and commerce.
The Google Earth view of the EcoVillage school and the nearest of 6 EcoVillages can be viewed by clicking on the map. Since this photo was imaged, three additional classrooms have been added, along with a kitchen, cafeteria, cistern and kitchen garden. The main road is National Highway 3.
The teachers and principal are fully certified and the school meets all the standards of the Haitian Ministry of Education. Classes follow the curriculum established by the Ministry and are taught in the language of the children –Kreyol (Creole).
Before agreeing to launch the school project in 2014, all of the partners committed to establish an institution that would become self-sufficient; that is, able to operate without overseas funding. This is a daunting goal for a school in such a rural, impoverished area, but the goal of self-sufficiency is within sight.
Three factors are required for financial self-sufficiency.
1. Completed construction. One more classroom is required to complete the physical plant.
2. National Accreditation. Achieved in 2018, accreditation (“nationalization”) obligates the national government to fund the school. When the project was launched, this milestone was viewed as the way to become independent of foreign funding. However, today’s reality is that the national government has no funds to allocate, leaving all schools in the country without government support. It is a national crisis. Eventually, the school will need some government funding, but it will not be totally dependent on it. National accreditation improves prospects for support from NGOs such as UNICEF, which is often in the form of donations of food or technology.
3. Contributions from the community/parents. School parents are farmers who have access to land and expertise from MPP. The Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership invested in a loan program to allow EcoVillages to produce cash crops (goats, moringa, cassava) that would directly support the school. Additional funding must come from the many parents who do not reside in the EcoVillages, for which a mechanism has not yet been developed.
When support from the Haiti EcoVillage School Partnership ends in 2021, the future of the school will be in the hands of the parents and local community.
Kids must be fed to learn. Parent volunteers cultivate several acres of cabbage, melons, peppers, squash, papaya, root vegetables – to name only some of the food that children eat for lunch. Oil and rice are some of the staples that must be bought or donated.
The children’s prayer before each meal: Bless this food. Bless the hands who prepared it. Bless those who have no food.
This prayer impacts visitors, for we know that these children know hunger and they know where the food comes from because they help grow it.
Become a Friend of the EcoVillage School
Lilburn (Georgia) Elementary School classes have a “pen pal” relationship with classes at the EcoVillage school, enabling the children from both cultures to see what the others are like.
Hess Academy (Decatur, Georgia) Hess and EcoVillage School kids exchanged art depicting their lives. Art from Decatur now hangs in the EcoVillage School.
Haiti Book drive. For 4 years, people in Atlanta have conducted a book drive, sending books in Kreyol, French and English to start a library.
There are many projects that would support the school, from fun (supporting a soccer program or preschool toys and equipment) to basic (adult literacy) to technical (solar electricity). Several people have taken on projects of their own. The Partnership welcomes the opportunity to discuss personal initiatives with anyone who wants to deploy their skills, knowledge or passion to support the school or the EcoVillages.