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USAID’s “Room to Learn” Seeks Education for All Haitian Kids
November 12, 2013

07 November 2013

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks with a student
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks with a student during his visit to the National School in Tabarre, Haiti, on November 5.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching a program in Haiti called Room to Learn that will focus on making education more accessible for all children in the country.

Worldwide, 57 million children are out of school, and hundreds of thousands of young children in Haiti do not have access to education. Haiti is one of six focus countries for USAID’s Room to Learn initiative, which is designed to increase equitable access to quality education, USAID said in a November 5 press release. Through Room to Learn, USAID aims to accelerate progress toward Millennium Development Goal 2, universal access to primary education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and USAID Associate Administrator Mark Feierstein joined Haitian President Michel Martelly and Haitian Minister of National Education Vanneur Pierre to announce the new program. USAID Senior Adviser for International Education Christie Vilsack also traveled to Haiti.

The group visited the École St. Jean de Dieu, a school that provides education to vulnerable children, which is a part of Pierre’s initiative to promote equitable access for school-aged children who remain outside the system. Duncan also visited a USAID-funded early-grade reading program being implemented in 300 schools in Haiti.

Providing access to school and quality learning opportunities for vulnerable children is the type of effort to be supported through USAID’s Room to Learn program, USAID said.

“Room to Learn is about providing safe access to schools, rebuilding education systems, and preventing and mitigating the effects of conflict and crisis. USAID is working with ministries and our global partners to provide access to education for millions of out-of-school children so they have the opportunity to learn to read and build the foundations for their success in school and beyond,” Vilsack said.

USAID works closely with the government of Haiti to build the capacity of the education system and provide safe, equitable education to children, the agency said.

“Haiti is at a critical juncture in rebuilding its economy, and there is a significant governmental consensus and commitment to advancing education reform as part of the effort,” Duncan said. “Investments in education can grow a nation’s economy and expand opportunities for its citizens. Leaders from both countries share a common desire to create high-quality education systems for all that adequately prepare our children for success in their personal and professional lives.”

Read more about the U.S. government’s education efforts in Haiti and the Room to Learn initiative on USAID’s website.