Rayjon’s experience of Community Development began back in 1988/89 with the hiring of two Canadian field staff who worked with a local church group to construct and support the day-to-day running of three rural schools in the Haut de St Marc area of Haiti.
Today The Pinson Community School provides quality education for 250+ students from preschool to grade 8, and is home to 10 dedicated teachers who live on site during the week. The school is very far from the city, way up the top of a mountain. Life is hard in this rural community plagued by a near constant shortage of water, poor soil conditions, few job opportunities and poor access to health care.
Education is key to ending poverty.
50% of children in Haiti still do not attend school1, and that of the children that do attend school, 60% will abandon school before sixth grade2. Gender discrimination is prevalent, and girls are often left behind without the opportunity to pursue an education.
Each additional year of schooling can add 10% to an individual’s earnings. We are very proud that over half (56%) of students at the Pinson school are girls! In 2018 we have plans to support additional gender equality initiatives in the community.
Secondary school begins at Grade 7 in Haiti, and until 2016 most children from Pinson were forced to abandon their studies after Grade 6 (as the closest secondary school was simply too far away and too expensive for their parents to send them). In partnership with the community, Rayjon began adding secondary grade levels in 2016, with plans to add one level with each year.
Construction is ongoing, with the partnership of Hope for Haiti (St. Mary’s, Ontario). Two additional classrooms are being built. Additional upgrades are needed to improve the living conditions for teachers (who currently have little electricity and zero clean water). Rayjon plans to work with the community to install new solar panels and to install a new rainwater collection system in 2018.
Rayjon’s ability to provide support for the Pinson school is bare-bones. There are few textbooks, no computer resources or technology, no feeding programs, art or athletic equipment. But there is a strong commitment to education on the part of the teachers, students and families. Education is a privilege in these communities and a source of great pride and commitment.
The Pinson community contributes approximately 33% of the operating costs of the school, demonstrating their ownership and dedication and contributing to the sustainability of the school. The school is recognized by the Haitian government, though government funding is unreliable at best. Currently the school receives no government support.
Rayjon was a main supporter of St. Patrick’s high school, which at one time was located in the rural area. In 2006 the first group of grade 13 graduates. In 2016 St. Patrick’s high school in St. Marc was handed over to community ownership and is no longer receiving financial support from Rayjon. Income from community contribution is now sufficient to cover all operating costs of the school- a great sign of independence.
We hope soon to work with the community to expand the curriculum and allow young minds to continue their training, expanding the opportunities available to students upon entering the work force.