Itâ€™s back-to-school time, and many parents are busy buying school supplies. But sadly, some parentsÂ can’t afford toÂ buy even a notebookÂ for their children. UNICEF knows the value of education, and thatâ€™s why we help build schools, distribute school supplies, train teachers and much more. Below is a report from Haiti about three kids and their school director who are celebrating going back to school.
If youâ€™d like to help less fortunate children have a great return to school, you can purchase a UNICEF Inspired Gift of notebooks, pencils or other education supplies.
Mariana Palavra reports from Haiti.
Fritzon, a 9-year-old boy, has spent the last three years dreaming about going to school. â€śI couldnâ€™t go before because my parents couldnâ€™t afford it,â€ť Fritzon explains. â€śI used to be sad because all my friends were attending school, and I was at home with nothing to do. And I wanted to learn so badly.â€ťÂ
His dream finally came true during the academic year of 2011-2012, when Fritzon and thousands of other students benefited from President Joseph Martellyâ€™s decision to abolish national school fees as part of his National Free Education Program.Â
Building New Classrooms for a New Beginning
Fritzon is now proud to be a student at Tabarre National School. For the public school, which was seriously damaged in the January 2010 earthquake, the decision also marked a new beginning.
â€śWith the support of UNICEF, we constructed seven new classrooms, and now we can have double the number of students. In October 2011, we started the classes again with 1,800 students instead of the previous 900,â€ť explains the schoolâ€™s director, Lucien Serge FranĂ§ois.Â
In fact, Tabarre National School is one of the 193 semi-permanent schools constructed by UNICEF after the 2010 earthquake, which destroyed around 4,000 schools in a country where only 45% of children were enrolled. Thanks to UNICEF construction efforts, 80,000 children were able to go back to school.
Providing Much-Needed School Supplies
In addition, 750,000 students and 15,000 teachers from 2,500 schools received much-needed learning and instructional materials from UNICEFâ€™s 2011 Back to School Campaign.
Â â€śAlthough the abolition of school fees was a great incentive, many families still have difficulty buying school materials, books and uniforms. Thatâ€™s why receiving the UNICEF kits was extremely important,â€ť admits the school director. â€śMost of our students come from vulnerable families who donâ€™t have the means to buy the school materials. Some of them cannot even afford a school bag or a notebook. They arrive empty-handed,â€ť adds Mr. Serge FranĂ§ois.
Twelve-year old Rosemitha was one of those children. She spent three years without going to school because her mother could not afford it. But now, thanks to her school kit, she is back in third grade and says she never lets her school materials out of her sight. â€śI take my UNICEF school kit with its notebooks, pens and pencils, everywhere with me. At home, I use it for homework, at school I use it to follow classes,â€ť she said. â€śMy younger sister and brother are jealous and they want to play with my materials. But I cannot let them. I am very careful with my materials, which have to last until the end of this school year,â€ť she adds, holding her UNICEF notebook.
Powerful Tools that Transform Childrenâ€™s Futures
Djhonny Jean Paul, a 14-year-old who attends third grade, understands Rosemithaâ€™s sentiments perfectly. He also spent several years out of school. Nowadays, he never leaves his school bag behind, whether he is at school or at home. â€śI have been so careful with all the materials. I cannot lose or waste them since I know my parents cannot replace them,â€ť he says. And like Rosemitha, he has to keep an eye on his brothers. â€śThe hardest part is controlling my younger brothers because they want to use the materials as well.â€ť
Although Djhonny is the oldest child in his class, he hasnâ€™t let go of his dreams. â€śI like mathematics, but what I really want for my future is to study hard to become a doctor so I can take care of others,â€ť he says.Â
Though simple, these school supplies are powerful tools that support childrenâ€™s education, helping transform their futures.Â
Inspired Gifts Help Disadvantaged Children
In Haitiâ€™s post-disaster and poverty-stricken communities, school supplies can bring children a long way.Â UNICEFâ€™s Inspired Gifts, like notebooks, pencils or other education supplies, can make all the difference to children around the world this school year.Â When you buy an Inspired Gift youâ€™re helping disadvantaged children have a fulfilling back-to-school season by giving them the chance to draw, write, and put their thoughtsâ€”and even their dreamsâ€”on paper.