Haiti: global educator solidarity at work after devastating Hurricane Matthew
Education International is meeting with its member organisations in Haiti to shape a plan to strengthen their capacity for action and offer long-term assistance for severely affected educators in the country’s hard hit south.
Education International (EI) has kept in touch with its four affiliates since the storm first hit on 4 October in southwestern Haiti, leaving more than US $1 billion of damage and over fatalities in its wake, and also sent them an official letter of solidarity on 11 October.
When natural disasters such as Matthew strike a country, EI can help affiliated organisations to strengthen their capacity for action, and offer long-term assistance to educators. In other countries affected by disasters, for example, this was done through financial support for the purchase of communications tools for the local unions, training on to use of these tools, and training in management of natural disasters for both the short and long term.
The EI representative, present in the capital city Port-au-Prince from 18 to 25 October, is slated to meet the leaders of EI affiliates and encourage them to discuss the development of a collective “post-Matthew action plan”, to be shared with EI and partner organisations.
CNEH: Entire regions threatened with disappearance
“It is a true catastrophe for teachers and pupils in the affected areas,” said the Confédération nationale des éducateurs haïtiens(CNEH) General Secretary Magalie Georges.
Entire regions are threatened with total disappearance, hunger, thirst, and cholera epidemic, she said, adding that while driving to the affected areas, she was often overwhelmed by the destruction, forcing her to pull over. However, each time she continued. “We have to answer to urgent needs of our members, help educators relocate and schools go on with the curriculum and finish the school year.”
UNNOEH: terrible situation of teachers in affected areas
Confirming a fear of a cholera epidemic – already 300 dead people since Matthew – and the dramatic situation Haitian educators are confronted to, the Union Nationale des Normaliens/Normaliennes et Educateurs/Educatrices d’Haïti(UNNOEH) General Secretary Georges Wilbert Franck stressed that “the Haitian education system will not be able to get back on its feet without first the help of the government and international partners”.
His education union is ready to fully collaborate with the EI representative to draft an action plan, he said.
He also deplored that educators in the five deeply struck districts now lack a roof, clothes and pedagogical materials. Half of the 400 schools in Jérémie, the capital city of the Grand'Anse region, collapsed, he explained; the ones still standing and not too severely affected are used as provisory shelters for homeless Haitian.