Monday, February 1, 2010

Haiti looks to Caricom to rebuild shattered education system

Written by CMC:

PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Haiti has used the inaugural Caribbean Community (Caricom) Summit on Youth Development to make an impassioned plea for assistance in rebuilding its shattered education system following the destruction caused by the powerful earthquake on 12 Jan.

Haiti’s Caricom Youth Ambassador (CYA), Leticia Cadet, said rebuilding the education system is a matter of priority for her country still reeling from the effects of the earthquake that left an estimated 200,000 people dead and more than one million homeless.

She presented a petition to a special meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD), one of several conferences leading to the two-day summit that ended last Saturday.

In the petition, Haiti is calling for a "recovery relief effort to support youth development through tertiary education and business development in Haiti …in partnership with Caricom.

"The 12 Jan., earthquake left thousands of students without schools, universities, and teachers in Port-au-Prince and around Haiti.

"Current efforts are focussing on providing food, water, and shelter; but in the coming months and years, the most pressing issue will become the lack of qualified human resources to rebuild Haitian society, which will result from the generations of displaced students unable to access quality education during and following the crisis.

The demand for quality education is, and will continue to be, very critical," according to the petition.

Cadet said while the education system in her country collapsed following the earthquake, prior to 12 Jan., Haiti had little capacity and only a few facilities to offer higher education.

She said Haiti therefore needs the support so as to "avoid (the) creation of a potentially detrimental gap in qualified human resources."

She said with the collapse of the buildings housing the School of Nursing and the School of Human Sciences, students who survived the earthquake stand the possibility of missing the rest of the academic year.

She called for Caricom to provide a minimum of 20 scholarships annually for the next five years, allowing Haitian students to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The youth ambassador also expressed hope that the UWI would be more "flexible" to enrol Haitian students.

Suriname Education Minister Edwin Wolf said at every level, suitable measures and actions should be taken to put appropriate conditions in place to help young people to develop their potential.

"The clichéd phrase that "youth of today is the future of tomorrow,’’ should be discarded. The future of young people is now…today we must listen to them.

"Today we must help them so they can develop their potential and become responsible citizens who can make a contribution to the country and the region," he said.

Barbados Youth Ambassador Christaneisha Soleyn challenged the ministers of youth to find the time to dialogue with young people, provide guidance to them and solicit their advice on how best to address various situations.

01 February 2010 12:00