This fall, with the start of a new school year, 23 students in Léogane, Haiti have received high school scholarships from GOALS thanks to a successful fundraising campaign by Jovan Julien.
Education is one of the most important things in the world to Haitian families. Families save all their earnings to put as many of their children as possible through school. In Léogane, children often own only one uniform, which they wash at the end of the school day and leave out to dry before heading off again to school in the morning. Lack of books, materials, food and transportation don’t deter these ambitious young adults from pursuing their educations.
Primary school enrollment rates in Haiti are about 50%, and by secondary school, enrollment declines to about 20%. (Click here for more statistics on Haiti from UNICEF.) By the end of high school, many students have dropped out not because of delinquency, or poor grades, but simply for lack of funding.
The education system is historically based on the French model, and it can be unforgiving. There are 14 years of primary and secondary school combined, and there are virtually no public schools available. The few public institutions that do exist aren’t free – they charge entrance, monthly, and examination fees just like other schools, though at lower rates. It’s a challenge for poor and middle-class families to put even one child through school, no matter how bright or committed he or she is.
At GOALS, we believe in education in the classroom and out in communities. Last year, GOALS was able to grant ten scholarships to high school students for our first-ever “Dream Team.” This year, Jovan Julien successfully raised over $10,000 for this year’s Team!
Jovan Julien is a Teach for America teacher in Atlanta, GA who volunteered for GOALS this summer to conduct photography workshops with teenagers in Léogane. To see Jovan’s photos from his time with GOALS, click here.
Dream Team members are thus named for their exceptional academic merit, demonstrated leadership capabilities, and ongoing commitment to the development in their communities. To maintain eligibility for the scholarships, Dream Team members conduct extra hours of community service and educational seminars each week. Dream Team members are expected to serve as role models for younger children, and outreach educators for the community at large.
The Dream Team is currently developing presentations for children and local residents on first aid skills, planting vegetable gardens, hygiene and sanitation promotion, and the SODIS-method of purifying water. After a year in the Dream Team, scholarship recipients will have new practical skills to improve quality of life in their communities, and experience as active young leaders and educators.
Thank you to everyone who has made this year’s Dream Team a reality!