By Thomas Nybo
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 9 October 2012 – Six-year-old Gloria Lincee is attending school for the first time this year.
|VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on a new school in Haiti that provides free quality education to vulnerable children. Watch in RealPlayer|
Gloria lives in the community of Citron Marlique in the mountains on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. She shares a one-room cement house with her parents and three sisters.
She’ll be joining about 200 other primary-school-age children. The brand-new school is just down the hill from her house. It was built by UNICEF, with the support of the community of Citron Marlique.
Gloria is one of millions of Haitian children heading to the classroom this school year. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Haiti to provide more children with free quality education – in particular, children who are vulnerable or live in areas that are difficult to access, like Gloria’s neighbourhood – or both.
In preparation for the school year, UNICEF has been readying 750,000 school kits. Each kit contains notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers and chalk. Teachers have received books, notebooks and other classroom supplies.
|© UNICEF Haiti/2012/Nybo|
|Millions of Haitian children are heading to the classroom this year, including this group of children at a new school built by UNICEF.|
On the first day of school, a school kit finds its way to Gloria. She quickly finds a spot in her classroom to sit down and carefully write her name in each of her new UNICEF notebooks.
A visitor to the classroom asks Gloria why she appears so happy.
“I’m happy because I come to class and I can join my friends,” she replies.
Equity at the heart of the agenda
On this, the inaugural day of Gloria’s new school, UNICEF country representative Edouard Beigbeder is joined by Ministry of National Education and Professional Training Director Charles Levelt Joseph and Director of the Community School of Citron Marlique Anette Louis Beaubrun. They meet the new students, adjust backpacks, and hand out school kits, as the young students survey their new school and catch up with friends.
“UNICEF has mobilized a large amount of its resources to reach the greatest possible number of students across the country, including in remote areas,” says Mr. Beigbeder. “This falls under the principle of equity, which is at the heart of our agenda.”
Gloria’s teacher Mireille Gazeau says this support is exactly what is needed for the children of Haiti.
“What I dream for girls like Gloria is that they do something in their life,” says Ms. Gazeau. “That they complete something. That they finish school. That they will be able to do what they like to do, meaning, being a doctor, an engineer. Who knows? Even a president.”
Nobody can predict how far Gloria's education will carry her. But for now, she has the proper tools for learning, as well as a safe and comfortable school.