Over the past few weeks, many of the kids I know went back to school, re-enrolling for another year of public education. They don’t have to buy books or uniforms. They don’t have to pay to ride the bus. The schools are responsible for picking them up and dropping them off. That’s the expectation. Education is the assumption.
As I watch these kids prepare for school with excitement and wonder, I am filled with a sense of awe at this incredible gift. All kids – the wealthy, the poor, and everyone in between – are offered an education. Anyone can ride the bus and many can even qualify for a free or reduced lunch. We value learning to the point that we consider it a “right” that every child learn how to read because the pathway to future success begins with education. School, therefore, is a given.
It’s September. Time for school to start. And yet many of the children in Haiti are not skipping to school. Or riding the bus. They aren’t going to school at all because school in Haiti is not free. Haitians have to pay a significant amount of money to attend elementary school…and middle school…and high school. Then they have to pay for the cost of books and uniforms every year.
The average cost for a child to attend first grade in Haiti is $200. The average annual income for each Haitian is $350. Simply put, enrolling a 6-year-old in first grade would require 57% of the average yearly income. Would you be able to afford that? Without sufficient funding for things like public education, entire generations of children in Haiti are growing up without the basic life skills that are provided by things like literacy.
Enter in FPSM’s literacy program. With minimal cost, we have the capability to teach children and adults the basic levels of literacy and reading comprehension. To see the look on someone’s face when he or she is able to put a word together and make sense of the letters for the first time is indeed like watching a miracle unfold before your very eyes.
In the land of assumed education, it’s hard not to take this incredible gift for granted. The bottom line is that the privilege of structured learning that we assume to be a basic human right is an extreme privilege reserved for only the few elite in Haiti. At FPSM, our vision includes making education and literacy more accessible for all. If a child or an adult can read, the doors of opportunity begin to swing open…enabling vision, employment, and even the possibility of hope for the future. Literacy provides the potential for young and old hearts alike to come alive with knowledge, which can spur deep conviction and lasting change.
As you drive past your local elementary school in the dawn of this new school year, please consider supporting FPSM’s literacy program. No donation is too small and every single dollar matters. It’s truly an incredible opportunity – to partner with FPSM in providing the gift of literacy for a child or an adult who doesn’t have the money to attend school. School in Haiti isn’t free. But that doesn’t mean that the gift of reading can’t lead to freedom.
Written by: Sarah Kamienski
Statistics for this blog were found online at haitioutreach.org
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