As in the states, June marks the end of the school year in Haiti. It’s the time to take a standardized exam that will determine if the student will advance to the next grade level in September. In Haiti there is no social promotion – each child must pass the test or take the grade level over again. So it’s a traumatic time for many of them.
Many of our orphanage children, as well as the children in our village schools, haven’t had the opportunity to go to school at all until recently. This means that some of the older children are still in the lower grades. Many of their parents are illiterate (literacy is about 20% in the country) and don’t see the value of education Therefore they don’t give a lot of support to their children. So normal advancement can be very slow, with a child possibly staying several years in one grade.
Malnutrition also plays a part in a child’s education. Many of these children have had little to eat and what they did have was not well balanced. The result of malnutrition negatively affects learning ability. In the orphanage, our kids have a well balanced diet, but before they got there, many had very little to eat. In the villages where we support schools, many of our students come to school hungry and an empty stomach is not conducive to good learning.
Some of the older children in the orphanage are doing very well in school. Robenson, Mylande, Shella, and Roseline are in the 8th grade at a Christian secondary school in Gros Moine. They are #1, #2, #3 and #4 in their class. They work extremely hard, are competitive with each other, and have set high individual and career goals. Eniel, Jona and Dieunide are in the 7th grade in our new secondary school in Drigeon and are also doing very well. Many of our younger children and some of the older ones are struggling academically however. Here are the grade statistics for the remaining orphanage kids.
- 1 child in 6th grade age 13 years old
- 3 children in 5th grade ages 11 – 16 years old
- 6 children in 4th grade ages 11 – 15 years old
- 7 children in 3rd grade ages 12 – 17 years old
- 23 children in 2nd grade ages 9 – 16 years old
- 16 children in 1st grade ages 8 – 13 years old
- 16 children in Kindergarten ages 7 – 17 years old
- 22 children in Pre-Kindergarten ages 4 – 13 years old
Some of the older children in the younger grades probably will not advance very far academically. They will be channeled to a trade school education as soon as that is determined. Others, even though they are in their early teens, are in school for the first time this year. Some of them will move forward more rapidly depending how motivated they are.
Our goal is to provide the opportunity for each child to reach his/her full academic potential. We would like to see the schools and teaching methods be adequate for their learning styles. We would like to see teachers have on-going training. We would like to see the children go to school with food in their stomachs. We would like to see their parents understand the value of education so that they will encourage their children. The challenges are great — and so are the potential results.
Education is not only important to each child’s future but it also gives the opportunity to present Jesus Christ to each one as well as to the parents. Our goal is that each child will trust Jesus as Savior and acknowledge Him as the Lord of their life.
Please pray with us concerning these educational challenges. Those of you who sponsor children, please pray specifically for their intelligence and that they will do well in his/her upcoming exam.
Providing for the needs of these children is made possible through your financial support. We do have children available to sponsor in the school support ministry. Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry – making a difference in the lives of a few Haitian children.
Serving our Lord together,
Bernie & Sheryl Bovenkamp