Lilavois School where we help support an afternoon teacher.Churches were first to open in Haiti, about 2 weeks before the schools. Most church buildings are reminiscent of the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs and many people wear masks to attend services. Schools then reopened in August. Political instability in the fall and then pandemic closings in the spring caused a delay in the administration of the national exams. The required classes just sat for the the 2019-2020 national exams in mid-October and schools are on break until the new academic year begins November 9th. Lack of widespread electricity and technology did not allow for online learning during the shutdowns. Even learning by television was impossible.
The school in Lilavois opened in August as well. Sr. Cadet, the principal, reports that the children were so excited to return to school and see friends and resume studies that the students lined up in perfect rows to sing the national anthem without any direction from the teachers. It is wonderful to see the activity return to the campus! All schools were allowed to open in August and as parents became more confident of their children’s safety, the enrollment in Lilavois slowly returned to pre-pandemic levels. The children wear masks when they are in class. Most of the classrooms are well-ventilated and/or three-sided due to the heat and the lack of electricity for fans or air conditioning.
The classes that take the national exam have been focused on studying and reviewing material from the previous academic year since August, trying to catch up from months of closures due to political demonstrations shutting down the country in the fall, followed by pandemic closings from March until August. As the schools were allowed to open, but the new year had not officially begun, the Lilavois students dd not need to wear their uniforms to attend class. PeaceQuilts donated masks they made so that any student without a mask could be supplied with one. Those classes not taking the national exam finished the prior school year before beginning their new classes in September.
Officially, the new academic year will begin in November and the state was not paying teachers for August, so the students attending schools with no instructors began to demonstrate and even ransacked one of Lilavois’ sister schools in Lalue in September, damaging desks and chairs, in order to draw attention to the inequality in their education. They did not feel they could be as prepared for the national exams as students attending private schools where the teachers were being paid and children had been learning since August.
Sr. Cadet initially combined the afternoon school students with the regular school classes for those who were able to attend since the class sizes were smaller when everyone was not back to school. The afternoon school will begin again in November with the start of the new school year with the help of the teacher sponsorship given by the Chilmark Community Church. Sr. Cadet sends her thanks on behalf of the school for your support.