Have you ever wondered how the educational system in Haiti works? Hopefully this short article will give you a small glimpse into better understanding education in Haiti.

Education in Haiti is very similar to and yet very different from education in the U.S.  In Haiti, children learn their 1, 2, 3’s and A, B, C’s just like in the United States, but one of the main discrepancies is the number of private vs. public schools. In Haiti, the vast majority of schools are privately run. Only 10-15% of schools are run by the government. This means that most students are required to pay tuition to attend school, a major barrier for many families, which has led to educational struggles. 

Historically, literacy rates in Haiti have been the lowest of any country in the Western Hemisphere, with less than half of the adult population able to read and write. The country has been caught in a cycle of illiteracy and poverty for decades, but with your help we are working to break this ongoing cycle.

Like the United States, preschool is the start of education for children in Haiti. Knowing that the development of early literacy skills are vital to long-term success in school, World Wide Village offers student sponsorships for children as young as 3-years old. With sponsorship, even children whose parents cannot read and write have the opportunity to develop early literacy skills that will help them be successful in school.

Pictured: Luly preschool class

After several years of preschool, children move onto “Fundamental Education,” which consists of three cycles of three years of schooling. 1st-3rd, 4th-6th and 7th-9th. National testing is required at several points in the Haitian educational system and all students who have completed grades 1-9 must pass a mandatory national exam at the end of 9th grade to continue to higher levels.

According to Unicef statistics, 77% of children in Haiti attend primary school (grades 1-6), although these numbers are lower in rural areas such as Williamson and Luly. The majority of that 77% of children complete grades 1-6, but less than 30% of children move onto secondary school. The main reasons for this discrepancy include:

  • Access to secondary schools: Children in rural Haiti don’t always have access to secondary schools and must move into more urban areas to find education above Grade 6.
  • Cost of secondary schools: The increased cost of tuition for secondary school is a major barrier for students not part of a sponsorship program.
  • Ability to pass national exams: Even children who have access to secondary school and the financial resources to complete grades 1-6 must also prove their proficiency in all of the subjects, which sometimes proves difficult for students.

Pictured: Williamson School

The third cycle of Fundamental Education consists of 7th-9th grades. After completing grade nine students must pass a stringent national exam in order to earn a certificate of completion and advance to the next level of education. This exam is another major milestone in a Haitian student’s education, but often not without struggle.

French is the principal written and administrative language of Haiti, and used on the national exams.  This often creates a language barrier since most Haitians speak Creole, and only the most educated Haitians speak French fluently.  The national exams are expensive and can be very difficult to pass and many students have to take the test more than once in order to pass.

Pictured: Twaziem  in Williamson, Haiti

Grades 10-13 are called Twaziem, Seconde, Rheto (with another national exam) and lastly, Philo.  Then the best and the brightest continue at a University, professional school or vocational school.

Thanks to your help, the World Wide Village Student Sponsorship Program continues to grow and bless more and more children each year. These children are the future of their communities and will help to break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty in Haiti. What a joy it will be to watch, as these young students are better able to use their God-given potential through the opportunities that you are giving them through the gift of education.

Visit the World Wide Village Facebook and Instagram pages to meet the students who are most in need of sponsorship. Many of these children were not able to attend school last year and will not be able to attend school next year if not sponsored. Thank you for helping break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty and showing the love of Christ to so many children in need. You really are making a difference in the world!