An uncertain return to school for children in Haiti after the earthquake | Plan International Skip to main content

An uncertain return to school for children in Haiti after the earthquake

The situation is concerning for girls and teenagers because schools have already been closed for almost 4 months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

50 years old Frantz, father of three children, is the Director of a National School in the Nippes department in Haiti lost his home to the 7.2 earthquake that happened on August 14th 2021

“When the earth shook, I was driving my motorcycle and I immediately stopped; I was afraid because in that place there where rocks that started to roll in my direction because of the earthquake”, said Frantz.

Frantz is concerned about the emotional impact on children from the earthquake, something he has been able to witness with his own children. “I spoke about what happened with my children, it is a situation that is really tragic, the children are stressed, and the aftershocks that continue to hit the area make the children very anxious,” he explained

Getting children back to school is the best way to make sure they can recover. Whilst life-saving assistance and relief supplies can make a difference, Plan International recognizes the critical importance of addressing the emotional needs for children and families. Being back in the classroom with friends and teachers can help to create a sense of normality and stability.

The earthquake has hit the education sector very hard. Initial assessments by UNICEF indicate that 63 schools are destroyed and 39 damaged in Grand'Anse, 85 schools are damaged in Nippes, 74 damaged and 20 destroyed in the South. These 281 schools in difficulty are home to over 84,000 children. This will have a direct impact on the ability of children especially girls to return to school soon after this emergency.

The situation is concerning for girls and teenagers because schools have already been closed for almost 4 months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is not yet known when some schools will be able to reopen. “As a result of the earthquake, adolescent girls are more likely to drop out of school, experience violence, be forced into early marriage, become pregnant, and lose their livelihoods,” said Celigny Darius, Country Director Plan International Haiti.

The school building where Frantz works as a Director was destroyed during Hurricane Matthew in 2007 and rebuilt some time later. This time, unlike other buildings in the area, the school building withstood the earthquake, however the school is a temporary shelter now making it impossible to re-start classes. “In my opinion, the reopening of classes is not possible for September. In my community, the school is used as a shelter for about ten families, it would be necessary to first help them to have a place to go, at least a tent next to their house and to find funds to buy the supplies for their children,” said Frantz.

The Government of Haiti is doing a rapid assessment led by the Ministry of Education and Departmental Directorate of Education together with NGOs and other organizations. They are working to accelerate the clearing of school sites where buildings have been destroyed or damaged in order to build temporary structures to facilitate the return to school. The beginning of the school year was also postponed for October for the three departments affected by the earthquake. .

Plan International is working with partners on plans to   build temporary learning centers, promote improved hygiene, facilitate training for teachers in psychosocial support and other topics, and provide supplies to schools, with a particular emphasis on the needs of adolescent girls. 

We always prioritize children’s safety, protection, wellbeing and education during emergency responses.