Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Jean-Bertrand Aristide: On my return to Haiti …

A profit-driven recovery plan, devised and carried out by outsiders, can not reconstruct my country

Jean-Bertrand Aristide, The Guardian, Feb 4, 2011

Graduation day for Haitian skilled labourers, July 2010
Graduating electricians and plumbers in Port-au-Prince, July 2010. The quake left a gaping hole in the vocational training vital to reconstruction Photograph: Ramon Espinosa/AP
Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January last year destroyed up to 5,000 schools and 80% of the country’s already weak university infrastructure. The primary school in Port-au-Prince that I attended as a small boy collapsed with more than 200 students inside. The weight of the state nursing school killed 150 future nurses. The state medical school was levelled. The exact number of students, teachers, professors, librarians, researchers, academics and administrators lost during those 65 seconds that irrevocably changed Haiti will never be known. But what we do know is that it cannot end there.

The exceptional resilience demonstrated by the Haitian people during and after the deadly earthquake reflects the intelligence and determination of parents, especially mothers, to keep their children alive and to give them a better future, and the eagerness of youth to learn – all this despite economic challenges, social barriers, political crisis, and psychological trauma. Even though their basic needs have increased exponentially, their readiness to learn is manifest. This natural thirst for education is the foundation for a successful learning process: what is freely learned is best learned.

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