Last year, the University of Notre Dame launched Haiti Reads, a $1 million project to improve early grade literacy rates in Haitian catholic schools. Now, the university is again looking to education programs in Haiti with a little help from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, but this time, it’s focusing on secondary schools.
Kellogg awarded the University of Notre Dame a nine-month, $100,000 grant to assess the need to increase children’s access to quality education and vocational programs. The grant also supports the planning and design of a Catholic high school in Mirebalais, Haiti.
Haiti is a place of special interest for the Kellogg Foundation, which initially began working on the island in the 1950s by funding fellowships and scholarships. Kellogg’s work would eventually grow into a full-scale grantmaking program, but that all ended in 2006. After the earthquake in 2010, Kellogg reengaged its grantmaking in Haiti through its major areas of interest, including healthy and educated kids, civic engagement, racial equality, and secure families.
The University of Notre Dame has had a long tenure in the country, beginning in 1944. In 1993, the university embarked on a program to help fight lymphatic filariasis and began offering Haitian Creole classes at Haitian universities in 2004. Notre Dame currently focuses its work in Haiti on education, access to health care, and safe housing, all three of which are strikingly similar to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s work in the country.
Though the state of its education system garnered international attention after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s education sector was in crisis long before the quake hit, and that state of crisis remains today. Children under the age of 18 make up around half of Haiti’s total population, of which only around 50 percent go to school, 35 percent manage to reach the sixth grade, and nearly 50 percent of the children in Haiti can’t read by the time they enter the third grade, which helps to explain the nearly 50 percent of adults in Haiti who are illiterate.
The Kellogg Foundation’s $100,000 grant to the University of Notre Dame is only the second award the foundation has doled out for children’s education so far this year. Kellogg also awarded an $800,000 grant to Concern Worldwide in support of its work on improving child educational outcomes, teacher training and basic literacy in Creole, in Saut d’Eau, Haiti.
A few other funders are paying attention to Haiti’s dismal literacy rates. Namely, the Knight Foundation, which recently awarded Library for All a $265,000 grant toward the purchase additional education materials and digital books for K-12 students.