The First EVER Secondary Graduation for One Rural Community in Haiti
By Brittany John – Health, Hunger and Education Program Manager
For the last four years, GreaterGood’s support for The Matènwa Community Learning Center (Lekòl Kominotè Matènwa in Creole) (LKM) has funded the additions of grades 10, 11, 12 and 13 (including teacher salaries, school supplies and school additions to complete the secondary school).
The first ever 13th grade class of 10 students graduated!
This school is in the heart of Matenwa, a remote region on the top of the island of La Gonâve in Haiti, just 52 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Prior to this year, the community did not have one single secondary school.
We are incredibly proud of this group of trailblazing students as they are not only the first in this school to graduate, they are the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. This formative example set by these graduates will influence generations to come. Younger students in the school now know that if they work hard, they too have the possibility of passing the national exam, and succeeding at something for which they are passionate.
The education the students receive at LKM is rooted in pedagogies that support critical thought, gender equality, motivation and encouragement without corporal punishment (unlike many other schools in this area), and how to become respectful, active leaders in the development of their communities.
“The leaders of this school set out to prove that children can succeed in the education system in Haiti using their mother tongue as the language of instruction, (and still pass national exams in French), and we did it!”
– Chris Low, Executive Director, LKM
LKM Graduate Highlights
“My name is Fania Bijoux. I am 19 years old and I just completed the 13th grade. I feel very proud to be graduating from MCLC, where I started my schooling in kindergarten.
“Education is a weapon that can change people’s lives, and education is the basis of development in all developed societies. Every time things got hard, I doubled my efforts. I don’t despair because I have a dream to accomplish great things.
“I would like the classes that come after me to know that education is the key to success and they must recognize its importance even if they are having a hard time in school. They must keep going because life is not easy, but if they make goals for themselves and keep working hard, they will be able to make a difference in not only their lives, but their families as well. If they work hard, they will be able to give back to our community, which has worked so hard to make sure we got to where we are now. The people that have helped me succeed are my family, GreaterGood, MCLC’s administration, and all of my teachers. I would like to express my gratitude, because your help has allowed me to finish school and achieve my dreams. If it weren’t for your help, my parents would not have been able to send me to school, and none of this would have been possible.“
“My name is Rica. I started at MCLC as a 9th grader. My parents were paying for my schooling up until grade 5. Then, they faced truly difficult financial struggles so my grandfather did the best he could and paid for my education through 8th grade. In ninth grade, my parents enrolled me at MCLC because it was affordable. I didn’t think I would like at first. I was often hit in the schools I attended before MCLC, so I came to expect it. I also struggled with the the fact that I had to learn everything by reading and memorizing. For a while, I was convinced I didn’t like school. As soon as I started at MCLC, I loved it. In fact, sometimes I’m sad that I’m graduating because it means I’m leaving and if I could, I would do it all over again. I was introduced to so many new things and ways of learning. Philosophy was the best class I took because the teacher was amazing. We spent a lot of time talking to each other intellectually and forcing each other to think in new ways.
“My dream is to become a radio personality, so I want to go to Port-au-Prince for an opportunity to get deeper into telecommunications. I don’t know how I’ll do it, but I have to. It’s my dream. The radio is like a global platform because there are so many ways for people everywhere to access a station.
“If I could talk to my younger self, I’d definitely talk to the ninth grade version of me. I would say, just continue on your path. Don’t worry that you didn’t pass the national exam the first time. It will take two tries but you will be successful. Stay focused and you will achieve your goal.”