St. Cyril

February 2020 Update

We visited St. Cyril and asked Elda to tell us how the school year is going.

Elda is a seventh grader at St. Cyril. Elda said she doesn’t have a favorite subject — she loves all of her classes! She told us that she isn’t quite sure what she wants to become when she grows up — maybe a nurse, but she remains undecided!

Since Elda’s teachers began taking part in the teacher training program that your Schools Not Slavery Partnership makes possible, they’ve launched new initiatives designed to encourage students to be active learners and to take ownership over their own education.

Today, nonviolent classroom management — instead of corporal punishment — is the norm. School-wide assemblies encourage students to share their ideas about what they’d like to see in their classrooms, and the Mother Tongue Book Program encourages Elda and her fellow students to write their own books with stories about their own lives.

Elda’s school also has a school garden now — a practice that was introduced to teachers when they began participating in the teacher training program.

Elda and her fellow students have planted beans, corn, plantains, and lettuce. “We learned how to plant and care for our garden,” Elda said.

Dorvil is one of the teachers at St. Cyril who is part of the teacher training program.

Thanks to your Schools Not Slavery Partnership, Dorvil and his fellow teachers in the training program learned about the benefits of teaching students in their native language — Haitian Creole — instead of French.

Students don’t learn as well when they think in one language but they are told to write and speak in another. Students who learn in their native language read, write, and speak better.

Dorvil also told us that he and his fellow teachers were trained in nonviolent classroom management. “Students are much more comfortable in the classroom now that we don’t use corporal punishment,” he said. “It’s a big change from when I first started teaching.”

Dorvil added that part of the move away from using corporal punishment involves empowering students themselves to make the rules that govern their classrooms — and the consequences when students break the rules. This helps them learn democratic practices that they will use for a lifetime.

“They may determine that students who break the rules will lose certain privileges or will be required to do extra homework,” Dorvil said. “Whatever they decide, they [the students] are the ones who set the rules and determine the consequences.”

You make all of this possible, through your care, your concern, and your support. Thank you again for your generous Schools Not Slavery Partnership with St. Cyril!

September 2019 Update

Top: First graders at St. Cyril; Bottom Left: Edmond, a sixth grader; Bottom Right: Wisline St. Luc, a first grade teacher.

Your Schools Not Slavery Partnership is Protecting 119 Girls and Boys at St. Cyril

Thank you again for your generous Schools Not Slavery Partnership in the 2019-2020 school year. We are so grateful!

We are deeply honored by your commitment to partner with the St. Cyril School and the community of Gransous to keep children free, safe, and in school.

Since 2010, Schools Not Slavery Partners like you have helped parents to find and free more than 600 children from slavery, and ensure that they have access to a high-quality school in their community. You’ve also prevented thousands more from becoming enslaved through your Partnership.

Thank you for all that you are doing to promote liberty, dignity, and hope for children and families in Gransous.

What Your Schools Not Slavery Partnership is Making Possible This School Year

Your generous partnership ensures continued access to quality education for rural, impoverished children in Gransous, many of whom are among the most at risk of being trafficked to cities as household slaves.

Your Schools Not Slavery Partnership makes it possible for teachers at St. Cyril to be trained in a nonviolent, native language, participatory approach to classroom management that is not found in most traditional public and private schools. It includes the following elements:

    1. Native Language Instruction – Students are taught in Haitian Creole – the language they speak at home – instead of French, a language students rarely encounter in their daily lives. Once students are literate in their native language, teachers introduce French as a second language.
    2. Participatory Approach to Classroom Instruction – Rote memorization of French-language textbooks is the basis of instruction in most classrooms in Haiti. Your Partnership supports a participatory-based approach, which is meant to foster intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills among students. Rather than simply copying, memorizing and parroting back lessons in French, students write their own stories in Haitian Creole about their own lives and share them with each other. The approach, first brought to Haiti by our primary education partner on Lagonav Island – the Matènwa Community Learning Center – is known as the ‘Mother Tongue’ program. Teachers at St. Cyril also decorate the walls of their classrooms with the work of their students.
    3. Education Rooted in Rural Life  – Your Partnership is supporting an approach in which teachers are rethinking the traditional approach to education in Haiti that has largely shunned any classroom connection with rural life and agriculture. By integrating agriculture into the classroom curriculum, teachers teach skills and develop habits that students will need to thrive and build better lives for themselves where they live, without having to migrate to the city. School gardens teach students agricultural science and mathematics, including techniques to improve yield and mitigate drought driven by climate change. Vegetables grown are used in daily school meal programs, with excess food sold in the market, helping students learn to manage money. Families with students at St. Cyril are also encouraged to plant their own vegetable gardens at home.
    4. Nonviolent Classroom Management – Authoritarian classroom management enforced via corporal punishment, shaming and humiliation is the norm in Haitian classrooms. Your Partnership supports the training of teachers in a nonviolent classroom management approach that aims to teach students leadership and democracy by empowering them to develop class rules. Teachers then hold students accountable to the standards that they themselves established.
    5. Textbook Banks – Students have the textbooks that they need, thanks to your Partnership. Students borrow books on a sliding scale fee, according to their ability to pay. The bank ensures that no student goes without a textbook this school year.

In addition to these elements, your Schools Not Slavery Partnership supports these activities too: 

Annual Third Grade Reading Assessment – Teachers conduct a third grade reading assessment to determine the level of progress students are making in reading. The test assesses the main skills that are known to predict reading success within the early grades of primary school.

Parental Engagement Strategy – Parents are invited to parent-teacher gatherings at which they provide feedback, share their own priorities for their child’s education, and ask for help in how best to support their child’s education. Your Partnership also supports a day-long ‘Open Space Gathering’ for parents. They meet with teachers and the school director for a day-long session in which the agenda is determined entirely by the participants of the meeting, a strategy designed to build parental ownership. 

Salaries and Benefits for School Staff, Teacher Trainers, and Agricultural Technicians – Your Partnership also supports a portion of the salaries and benefits for staff and the teacher trainers and agricultural technicians who are building the capacity of teachers at the school.

About St. Cyril

The school is located in the town of Gransous, a rural community on the island of Lagonav.

There are 119 students at the school, 45 girls and 74 boys, in kindergarten through the sixth grade.

Thank You

Thank you again for your generous Schools Not Slavery Partnership with St. Cyril. We are deeply grateful for all that you are making possible for vulnerable children in rural Haiti. If you have any questions about your Partnership, please feel free to contact Beyond Borders’ Donor Engagement Director Brian Stevens at (305) 450-2561 or b.stevens@beyondborders.net.