Teacher Subsidies

Teacher Subsidies

Supporting Teacher Salaries

Although Friends of Borgne targets assistance for the poorest families through sponsorships, there are many families in Borgne that struggle to educate their children.  One principal shared that up to 40% of families fail to pay their full tuition, which leaves the school short on paying teacher salaries. Still he said, “How can we force a child to lose a whole year of school for a few hundred gourdes ($20 USD).  It just wouldn’t be right.”

Many teachers consider their work, at least in part, as community service.  Some work the entire school year without being paid. While noble, lack of pay leaves them in personal financial difficulty.  When they find another opportunity for work, they tend to cancel classes, deteriorating the overall quality of education.

While there are not enough schools for all the children needing an education in Borgne, schools still close because large number of parents are unable to pay their tuition bills part way through the year or because of low enrollment in general.

Wesleyan school students

With our director Estimable, we came up with an agreement that Friends of Borgne would subsidize the teacher salaries, if the school would agree to lower tuition for all students.  The school has been going strong since then, and we send many of our Children of the Fondasyon to elementary school there each year.

Wesleyan School

The Wesleyan school in the village of Borgne closed in 2008 for exactly for that reason, and the church pastor approached the Fondasyon Dauphin seeking support.

Wesleyan teacher exam
crossing a river

The Fondasyon agreed to try to help and approached Friends of Borgne.  We were able to fund partial construction of the school, including the roof and half-high concrete block walls which were later completed with plywood through community fundraising in TiRivyea.  Members of Friends of Borgne visited TiRivyea for the school’s grand opening in 2012. Since then we have subsidized salaries on a monthly basis for eight teachers for pre-K through 6th grades and a school principal.

Ti Rivyea School

A few years ago, the rural community of Ti Rivyea, a bucolic habitation at the base of a mountain and nestled between the confluence of rivers, approached the Fondasyon Dauphin about developing a school in their area.  Because the nearest school was located in TiBouk, an hour walk away requiring seven river crossings, most of their children did not start school until after their eighth birthday. It was just too dangerous. Even the older children were often blocked from attending by flooding.  A few times flash floods had come out of nowhere–if it was raining somewhere far upstream–and swept unsuspecting children away to the sea.

Ti Rivyea school opening dance celebration for Friends of Borgne
8th grade Frere Andre students

Working with the local priest, the Fondasyon developed a plan.  Friends of Borgne found three generous donors who together provided $10,000 to prop up the school’s finances.  Then the Fondasyon Dauphin agreed to send all of its middle school students to Frer Andre, which provided a secure tuition base.  The school has been operating successfully since then, without aid. Last year, all of its students, including a number of our Children of the Fondasyon, passed the 9th grade exam–an exceptional accomplishment.

Frere Andre School

Frer Andre, a Catholic school in Borgne for children in 7-9th grade, has long been considered one of the best schools in the Borgne Commune for its quality teachers and high passing rates on 9th grade national exams. Unfortunately, attracting the best teachers with good salaries means higher tuition costs for students.  Ahead of the 2015-2016 school year, registration had fallen and the Catholic hierarchy decided to close the school due to lack of financial viability.

Immediately the community began organizing to save this star school.  Without Frer Andre, many families who hoped to see their children complete high school (or beyond) would now have needed to send their eleven-year-olds off to live with already over-strapped family or friends in the city of Cap Haitien to attend school.

7th grade at Frere Andre
Ronel Jean and his family

Ronel Jean and his family

On top of all this, he attends a weekend school in Cap Haitien to obtain a degree in Pedagogy–required for school principals who wish to have their school officially recognized by the Haitian government.

He began his studies around 2012, when the Haitian government agreed to take the Jericho school on as a public school.  They required that Ronel fill out a lot of paperwork and stop charging his students tuition, indicating that they would pay the teacher salaries.  After many meetings, office visits, and forms to fill, the Haitian government never followed through with any funds. Since Jericho had not charged students tuition, there was no money to pay teachers or buy supplies.  Lekol Jericho nearly folded as teachers deserted their classes after working two years without pay.

Jericho school building

Jericho School

The Lekol Jericho de Pechot Margot is the vision of a dedicated young teacher named Ronel Jean.  Like TiRivyea, Pechot Margot is a rural village. It is located an hour’s walk up a mountain and across several rivers from the nearest schools in TiBouk. Around 2009, Ronel, a new teacher, decided that it was unacceptable that so many children from his village did not complete sixth grade.

So, he did something about it.  He asked his church if he could hold classes there during the weekdays and recruited a few other teachers to join him.  Due to Ronel’s persistence, the school has grown since then to serve hundreds of students–despite times when he could not pay his teachers at all for nine months, despite not having an adequate building or space for the classes, despite the fact that he has to work half day at another school an hour away in TiBouk to support his family.

Jericho school classroom

However, Ronel persisted and raised funds to pay them at least something. Some left, but new teachers came. The school reinstated tuition, which though unreliable due to the economic condition of their students, provides some operational funds.

The school now has a building that fits about half the students. The rest meet in another large church about a 15 minute walk away.  Ronel, as principal, spends his time running back and forth between them. They added Kindergarten classes this year, bringing the faculty up to 9 teachers.

Thanks to support from Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester, we have now added Ronel’s school to our teacher subsidy program to reduce the burden he has in paying (and thus retaining) quality teachers.  They used to charge students 1500H ($120USD) per year but with our subsidy they now charge 800H ($63USD) per year.

Jericho school - youngest students