Leveling the playing field: Using soccer to tackle illiteracy in Haiti

Update: Would you like to sponsor a GOALS literacy learner? Please click here to sponsor a literacy learner. A suggested donation of $45 will provide one week of meals for our literacy class, while $110 will sponsor a student for the entire program, including books, materials and teacher support. Thank you for your support!

Prophet, age 14, shows off the "vowels" ball used in GOALS literacy class. This is the first time Prophet has ever been to school.

GOALS has always believed in the power of soccer to change lives and to inspire young people to achieve more. Now, through a new literacy program, we’re pushing the love of the game further than ever.

Education is at the core of GOALS’ soccer programs, through our health seminars, weekly classes, school tuition support, and directly on the field with educational soccer games. But despite the impact that all of these critical programs make, the fact remains that many Haitian children are unable to attend school. School fees are costly, and therefore unaffordable for poorer families in rural areas.

Parents must often choose between feeding their children or sending them to school.

According to UNICEF, 50% of children enroll in primary school, and just 19.5% enroll in secondary school. Only 52.9% of adults in Haiti are literate. The negative effects of low education are long-term. The World Literacy Foundation says that “higher literacy levels enable people to overcome the barriers of poverty and disease.” Children born to literate mothers have higher survival rates, and not surprisingly, literate adults earn more than those who cannot read and write.

By using soccer as a platform for development, GOALS is able to reach children who are left behind by conventional educational systems, offering a second chance for children who live in underserved communities. That’s why we’re incorporating literacy training into our existing sports and education programs.

For these boys and girls, becoming literate will simply be the first step toward achieving their full potential. After holding several community-wide meetings, we’ve enrolled 25 students into our first literacy course. Most of these children haven’t attended school for several years or more, and few of them have literate parents.


Guerlancie, for example, is only 11 years old, but has already fallen well behind her peers. After both her parents died, she went to live with her elderly grandmother who can’t afford school fees. Guerlancie can write her name and form a few letters, but she can’t quite form them into words. Even though she can’t yet write, Guerlancie is remarkably well spoken. When asked about her literacy skills, she replied:
"I want to be able to communicate with people. You should be able to read and write so that you can speak up at meetings and be a part of society. It’s good for the village if people can read and write. It will be good for the future of my village."

Our goal is to give Guerlancie and every single child in her community another chance.

Through literacy, GOALS will be able to level the playing field, giving these boys and girls their first opportunities to improve their own lives and, like Guerlancie says, “to be a part of society.”

Help kids in Haiti learn to read and write with GOALS! 
A suggested donation of $45 will provide one week of meals for our literacy learners, while $110 will sponsor a student for the entire program, including books, materials and teacher support.