Photo: Shakira's Barefoot Foundation
The Inter-American Development Bank and Colombian singer Shakira’s Barefoot Foundation announced they will support the Haitian government’s efforts to rebuild a historical public school in the capital’s downtown area.
The Elie Dubois school, located in downtown Port-au-Prince, suffered heavy damage from last year’s earthquake. Founded in 1913, it has provided secondary education and vocational training to generations of young Haitian women, under the guidance of the Daughters of Mary, a Catholic order.
The IDB and the foundation announced contributions totaling $800,000 during a ceremony held in the school’s courtyard and attended by Haitian government officials, international community guests, teachers and students.
“Education is critical for Haiti’s future,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno.“Today we are here not only to support the rebuilding of a school, but to express our support for Haiti’s efforts to transform its education system.”
Together with several donor countries and international organizations, the IDB is supporting Haiti’s ambitious reform to expand access to free and quality education.
Education Minister Joel Desrosiers Jean-Pierre noted that international aid allowed Haiti to resume classes for more than one million students after the earthquake, which destroyed or damaged thousands of schools.
The education reform plan also entails the construction of some 2,500 schools across the country over five years, as well as the reconstruction of schools such as Elie Dubois.
“I am sure that the only thing that will change the course of Latin America and the Caribbean’s destiny is for governments to make it a priority to invest in quality education for all boys and girls, from the moment they are born and forever,” said Shakira.
The singer and the IDB share a strong interest in early childhood development. Her foundation promotes education, nutrition and health programs for young victims of poverty and violence in Colombia, where it has built five schools serving more than 4,000 children, their families and their communities.
Since the earthquake, 240 Elie Dubois students have been attending classes at a nearby school. In September they will be able to return to their own campus, as the Ministry of Education, with UNESCO’s support, is building semi-permanent classrooms part of the school’s grounds.