The National School of Pwentarakèt

February 2020 Update

We visited the National School of Pwentarakèt and asked Alexis to tell us how the school year is going.

Alexis is a seventh grader at the National School of Pwentarakèt. Her favorite subjects are Haitian Creole and mathematics. She told us that she wants to become a kindergarten teacher when she grows up.

Since Alexis’ 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 become active learners in the classroom.

Teachers created an elected student body, with students serving as president, treasurer, and secretary. “We help set the rules for our classroom now too,” Alexis said, adding, “and all the students follow the rules.”

Alexis also told us that even the way her classroom is arranged has changed. When she first started school here three years ago, the desks were arranged in a traditional linear fashion, with one student behind the next.

When teachers returned from the training they rearranged their classrooms to put student desks in a circle, so that students can see one another and interact face-to-face.

Guy is one of the teachers at the National School of Pwentarakèt who is part of the teacher training program.

Thanks to your Schools Not Slavery Partnership, Guy 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.

“We learned the importance of teaching in Creole and we’ve seen how much more quickly students learn to read and write,” Guy said, compared to when classroom instruction was in French.

Guy, who has been teaching for 16 years, also noted how much more engaged students are in their own learning, with the switch to using Creole in the classroom. “Students ask a lot more questions now, they engage more deeply with the subject matter,” he said.

“And we haven’t abandoned French,” he added. Instead, French is introduced as a second language for students to learn.

Later this year students will begin writing stories about their own lives as part of the Mother Tongue Book program, and the school will launch a school garden — both elements of the teacher training program.

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 the National School of Pwentarakèt!

September 2019 Update

Top: Third graders at The National School of Pwentarakèt; Bottom Left: Dave, who told us he wants to be a businessman when he grows up; Bottom Right: Hilaire is celebrating his 10th year as a teacher at the school.

Your Schools Not Slavery Partnership is Protecting 71 Girls and Boys at The National School of Pwentarakèt

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 National School of Pwentarakèt 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 Pwentarakèt.

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 Pwentarakèt, 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 The National School of Pwentarakèt 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 The National School of Pwentarakèt 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 The National School of Pwentarakèt 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.

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 The National School of Pwentarakèt

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

There are 71 students at the school, 30 girls and 41 boys, in grades one through six.

Thank You

Thank you again for your generous Schools Not Slavery Partnership with The National School of Pwentarakèt. 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.