Haitian Schools Fear the End of Feeding Programs due to Free Education Plan

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Monday, 21 November 2011 13:35

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - Public schools across Haiti are uncertain if they can continue school feeding programs due to irregularities in the president's free education plan.

The Martelly-Conille government announced that students attending public schools would not have to pay the $2.50 - $5.00 yearly, registration fee normally assessed at the beginning of the school year.

At a value of about $2 million [US] nationally, the schools have not received compensation for these losses from the government and now have claimed difficulties in purchasing school supplies, health kits and other operational needs. School superintendents are considering ending school feeding programs in order to continue.

Principals were given a check of 15,000 gourdes ($375 [US]) but say this amount is not enough to ensure the purchase of school supplies, first aid kits, and maintenance of premises and does not consider the size of school.

Anchorwoman Lilianne Pierre-Paul
CNEH Official Edith Delouis Lourdes
11.15.11 | {japopup type="iframe" content="http://radiokiskeya.com"}Radio Kiskeya{/japopup}

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Even schools that receive food from non-governmental organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP) or the Bank of Nutrition and Development (BND) struggle to provide condiments, seasons and oil to cook the food or treatment tabs to treat the water.

"Now it is forbidden to claim any costs to the parents, who we seek their good will. Now, we must use our personal funds," said an administrator in {japopup type="iframe" content="http://lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=99366&PubDate=2011-11-17"}Le Nouvelliste{/japopup}.

School administrators are concerned about the continuity of the feeding program. "I am sure, for sure that the program will not last. I cannot continue with my own," said the director of a public school in Delmas.

Some are asking students for voluntary contributions of five gourdes. "Knowing we were asked not to take from the students, they do not want to give the 5 gourdes," said another.

According to statements by the Director of the National School Daguesseau Lespinasse, Jocelyne Hyppolite, the school received nothing, despite the many efforts undertaken to do so.

National schools consist of mostly children from poor neighborhoods. They are often of very poor parents. With this program, we were able to help children be more receptive, some school officials say. "A hungry stomach has no ears," says one of them, to highlight the importance of school feeding program, which may last for long.

A leader of the Republic National School of Canada warned that a child's ability to perform in school is compromised when not fed. "We have students whose parents have a bad economic situation. If the program stops, it will reduce the number of students and the decline of child performance," said the leader.

"I had to refuse food this year because the school is not in condition...," said Dany Leveille, the Director of the National School of Argentina.

Circumstances of the National Fund for Education

The Martelly-Conille government announced 772,000 students would be attending school for free and for the first time but the information was misleading and in certain cases false.

Only 28,400 students never enrolled in school before are actually having their education paid for by the state.

233,600 students who hadn't attended a school before were enrolled into public schools for the first time. Schools already free. The government claims to have provided the schools $100 [US] per child for the school year but this has not been confirmed on any front.

490,000 students attending public schools (the regular school population in Haiti) were waived from paying registration fees of $2.50 - $5.00 [US]. Although the state has waived the fee, schools are complaining for not having it supplemented.

President Michel Martelly has levied a tax since last June on international telephone calls and money transfers to fund his program of free education in Haiti to the tune of $8.5 million per month.

But in October, Senator Jocelerme Privert (Nippes/Inite), of the Senate Committee on Finance and Economy, found at least $26 million [US] unaccounted for in the nation's bank. Privert said "only $2 million [of the money] had been depositied at the BRH (Bank of the Republic of Haiti) and no withdrawal had been made from the account."