Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fall 2010 Newsletter



Crosby Fund For Haitian Education

We treated our university students to dinner at the Plaza in Port-au-Prince in October 2009.

Rebuilding Our University Program Fall  2010

At the time of the earthquake in January, we had 24 university students studying at 8 of the 15 universities in Port-au-Prince.  After the earthquake, 7 of those universities (11 overall) collapsed, leaving the university program in chaos.  Our first concern was the safety of our 24 students.  We were saddened to have lost one student, Alphonse Antonio in a collapsed university.  Five students suffered head and leg injuries, but have now recovered.   Our organization paid for the medical expenses and gave each student an allowance to replace clothing and personal items lost in the earthquake. The H.J. Promise Foundation offered a gift to replace 10 of the ruined laptops, so essential for university study.

Our second concern was to transfer our students to functioning universities that will enable them to finish their degrees, some students were in the final year of their program.  We hired Jean Baptiste Vaudy, who has a degree in public relations and lives in Port-au-Prince, to work with each student to find the best solution for their academic needs.   Together with Vaudy, the Haitian Advisory Board, and the students, we worked through the spring and summer trying to place each student. Vaudy met with the administrators of each university to see whether or not they had plans for rebuilding and to establish their goals for the immediate future. Some universities are not going to rebuild because of lack of funds.  Other universities immediately set up large tents with cubicles within the tents for classes. Some established these temporary universities in remote areas difficult for students to travel to and from. We visited some of these tent classrooms in May and discovered that some were much better than others.  The set-up that worked allowed classes to function without noise interference from other classes.  Quisqueya University, an excellent Haitian university, collapsed, but has set up a very good tent classroom system and is actively rebuilding.  Six of our students will be transferred to this university.   Fortunately, one of the best universities in Haiti, University of Notre Dame, had very little damage, and we are transferring several students to this school as well.  Both of these universities have substantially increased their tuition costs, which will put pressure on our budget.  We explored the possibility of sending some students to the state university, UTESA, in the Dominican Republic.  The fees to transfer, passports, visas and loss of academic credits amounted to too

Students studying at Quisqueya University under the tent while the University rebuilds.

many hurdles to overcome.  In the end, we transferred only two students to the Dominican Republic.  We are happy to report that as of this writing, all of our university students have been successfully transferred and will resume their education this fall.

Our university scholarship program provides 100% of the tuition, fees, and books ($2,500).  Last year, we provided a $500 stipend toward housing, leaving food and transportation costs for the students to pay on their own.  We found this to be very problematic for some students, who simply did not have the means to eat.  This year we are happy to announce that Sue and Don Joffray have donated a gift that will provide food subsidy for our students.  As Sue said, “It is hard to study when you are starving.”  Thank you Sue and Don for your generosity!  Our students have heard this news and are thrilled to have such kind support.

As you can imagine, the housing situation in Port-au-Prince has become much more problematic.  Students struggle to find a place to live and a room that they can afford.  Prior to the earthquake, a rented room in someone’s house with bathroom privileges was about $300-$500 a year.  Now that same room is $750 -$1000 or more.  Our future goal is to build a dormitory for our students.  We have land that is available for that purpose.  A centrally located dorm would provide decent, safe housing so that our students could focus on their studies.  The students could share in food expenses and transportation fees would be reduced as well.

Ted and Becky Crosby with Carl Freidrich Joseph Antonio Alphonse with Vaudy Jean Baptiste prior to Earthquake


Annual University Student Expenses

Tuition and Fees

$1800 – $2000

Books

$500 – $750

Transportation

$250 – $300

Housing

$750 -$1000

Food

$900 -$ 1500

($3 to $5 a day for 10 months)

Total  Range

$4,200 to $5,500

Sponsorship of a University Student

We try to find sponsorship for each of our university students — donors who are willing to provide $2500 or more a year to pay for the tuition and books for one student.  Donors may wish to provide  transportation, housing and food as well.  We have 9 students who need sponsorship.  If you are interested in sponsoring a university student, please contact us, and we would be happy to tell you more  about the program.  We give thanks to our special donors for their generous gift of university scholarships.

Laptops needed

We have 8 university students in need of laptops.  If you have an unwanted laptop and you would like to donate it as a tax deductible gift, please let us know.  Call Ted Crosby (860-575-5539), and he will  be more than happy to hear from you.

 Technical School Program

Last year, we initiated a technical school program designed for students who completed high school and passed their Rheto exam (12th grade), but did not pass the Philo exam (a 13th year), which is  required for university study.  A Rheto certificate entitles students to enter many technical school programs.  This year we offered 6 technical school scholarships in auto mechanics, air-  conditioning/refrigeration, physical therapy technicians, farming/re-forestation and tailoring.  With the help of Sue and Don Joffray, we plan to increase this program to provide more young people the  possibility of learning a trade that will provide employment. Generally the technical school program is one to two years and costs considerably less than university tuitions.  There are a wide variety of  small schools outside of Port-au-Prince.

Two of our students attend the physical therapy technician program offered at Hopital Albert Schweitzer.

High School Program

This year we are offering 120 students scholarships in our high school program.  These students attend schools that are within a 4 mile range of their house.  Most students walk or take a ‘tap-tap’ to school.  The schools in the country are quite primitive in structure and sparsely furnished.  Most have handmade benches for seating with a higher bench structure that is used as a table.  Schools have a blackboard, but few have electricity and plumbing.  We are astonished that students are able to learn under these crowded and sparse conditions, let alone excel.  Over the years, we have noticed that students generally struggle with math, and their low math scores prevent them from passing the Rheto and Philo state examinations.  We have started an after school math tutoring program, and we are beginning to see some results from that effort.  We are in hopes that our university students who excel in math assist in this tutoring program during their winter and summer breaks as a way of ‘giving back’ to the program and help the younger members in their community.

Current Operations

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education is managed by a volunteer Board of Trustees in Connecticut who oversee the operations in Haiti. A volunteer Board of Advisors in Haiti assist with the student selection and oversee all aspects of the operation in Haiti.  The Chairman of the Advisory Board serves ex-officio on the Board of Trustees and reports on a regular basis to Rebecca Crosby who serves as the Executive Director of the program.  The Crosbys make frequent trips to Haiti to oversee the operations in the office in Deschapelles and the university program in Port-au-Prince.

A student is selected for a scholarship based on an application, a letter of recommendation, a recent report card, an essay, a personal interview and, finally, an entrance exam.  The Board of Advisors in Haiti reviews the submitted information and recommends students for the program.  These recommendations are brought before the Board of Trustees, who vote to approve or disapprove the selections. Students selected in the program must remain in good academic standing throughout the school year in order to receive scholarship renewals for the following year. Students may continue in the program until they receive a bachelor’s degree or post-secondary certificate.  Regular report card reviews, tutoring opportunities, and communication with the Program Administrator assures this standard.  Students must also remain in good standing in their communities in order to continue to receive aid.  CFHE students are encouraged to get involved in their community through volunteerism in much needed projects.  Students volunteer in the Crosby office on a regular basis.

At the secondary school level, CFHE provides full tuition support, purchases books and required uniforms.  At the university level, CFHE provides full tuition and registration fees, and gives a book, housing and transportation allowance.  Additional living expenses are the responsibility of the student (some find this very difficult).  CFHE has an emergency fund to provide aid for medical and hunger assistance.  CFHE makes every effort to provide laptop computers for those university students who need them for study.

CFHE employs six staff members working in Haiti.  Five work in Deschapelles with the secondary education and technical school programs. They work with the students, parents, principals, teachers, and the Advisory Board, paying tuition, purchasing books, and uniforms.   We employ one staff member who works in Port-au- Prince with the university students and serves as a liaison between the student and the university.

Currently there are 120 students receiving full scholarships for secondary education.  These students range in age from 14 to 28 years and attend grades 7 through Philo, which is a required 13th year for those wishing to go on to post-secondary study.  There are 25 students receiving university scholarships and 7 students receiving support to attend post-secondary technical schools.

 

Students enjoy a festive afternoon as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of our program  — October 2009


Fednor Sidort with his father and Ted

Newsletter: Fall/Winter ’08-’09

 

Some Information on the Secondary School System in Haiti

Many people ask questions about the secondary school system in Haiti, and so we hope that you will find some answers to your questions.

Are there public schools in Haiti?

Yes, there are, but very few in the Artibonite Valley where we work.  Most students go to private schools.  Unlike America, where the private schools are considered better educational institutions than public schools, Haitian private schools are not as good as the public schools.  The public schools are regulated by the government and generally have better teachers.

Public schools are not free, however, there are still fees for tuition, books, exams, and uniforms. The difference is that the tuition in a public school may be $25.00 a year and in a private school as much as $125.00 a year.  All other fees (books, uniforms, exams) are the same as private schools.  We currently have students in 24 different schools – 3 are public and 21 are private.

What about the curriculum?

All the schools, public and private, use one curriculum for each grade that is established by the Ministry of National Education in Port-au-Prince.  The curriculum includes a wide variety of subjects.  For example a sophomore in high school takes the following courses: French and Haitian Literature, English and Spanish languages, biology, algebra, and geography.   All schools use the same books and workbooks. This makes it easy for students to transfer to different schools.  It also makes it easy for our employees to buy the books that the students need for the year.  We simply need to know how many students we have for each grade.

The teachers use the “rote’ method of teaching.  This method of memorization is difficult for many students who have different learning styles.  Teachers are required to have a teacher’s certificate in order to teach. This is a two-year post secondary program offered by Teaching Schools.

What is the grading system?

Students are graded on a scale from 1 to 10 for every subject they take.  There is an overall grade for each semester which is an average of their subject grades.  If their average at the end of the year is 5.0 or better, they can move on to the next grade.  If it is below 5.0, they must repeat the grade.  Our minimum grade requirement is 6.0.  If they have an average of below 6.0, they are dismissed from our program, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

At the end of their sixth grade year, freshman year, senior year (Rheto) and Philo (a mandatory 13th year for university entrance), there is a state-administered exam that must be passed to go on to the next grade.  The Rheto and Philo exams are administered in Port-au-Prince and are expensive for the students to take.  Yet they cannot go on in school unless they take these exams and pass them.  They are allowed to take the exam a second time, without a charge.  If the student fails the second time, the grade must be repeated and at the end of the year, the exam retaken.  In our experience the most challenging exam is the Rheto (12th grade) exam.

Student Interviews

In August, we had the opportunity to sit down with several of our students and learn more about their lives, their challenges, and their dreams.  In this newsletter, we share with you some of our students’ experiences and hopes for the future.

Fednor Sidort: 26 years old, sophomore at the Universite Autonome de Port-au-Prince, majoring in Business Management.

Fednor comes from a very poor family with ten children — only 2 out of the 10 attended school.  His brother went as far as the 11th grade, but he had to drop out because there was no money to pay his tuition.  His parents earn a living by burning stones to make an insect repellent that is painted on houses.  Before he was accepted in the program three years ago, Fednor attended school intermittently depending on the money.  Being a scholarship student changed his life – now, he says, he has a future, and he hopes that he will be able to find a job after he graduates so he can support his family.

Going to school and living in Port-au-Prince is very difficult for him.  He rents a room for $385 a year, a fee that is almost impossible for him to pay.  Sometimes he uses his book money to pay the rent, and then he must borrow books from his classmates.  He is hungry a lot of the time, but he manages to buy one meal a day for $3.85.  For that modest amount he receives a small piece of meat, some rice, a tomato, and 2 bananas. A gallon of water costs an additional $1.00.  Traveling to and from school is another challenge. School is about a 2 hour walk from his room.  He could take a “tap-tap” (public transportation), but that would cost him $1.00 per trip, and he can’t afford the $8.00 a week expense.  So he wakes early and walks to school.

When we interviewed him, Fednor was on vacation from school and staying with his parents in Deschapelles.  He has been studying and volunteering in our office organizing books and preparing for September.  With all the challenges of life in Port-au-Prince, Fednor shares that it is all worth it.  He is so proud to be a university student!   He never thought that would be possible for him.

Delicier Dieuseul: 26 years old, 4th year medical student at the University Notre Dame of Port-au-Prince. Delicier was raised by his mother along with 3 other children.  He never knew his father, because he left Haiti for South America when Delicier was  a baby.  His mother has a little business selling basic foods such as flour, sugar, salt etc.  The mother has tried through the years to put all 4 of her children in school, but there were some years when it was not possible.  Delicier is the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

When I asked him about life in Port-au-Prince, he said it was difficult moving from the country to the city.  It took him one year to adjust.  City life was distracting and difficult to cope with all of the challenges.  Like Fednor, he rents a room for $385 a year.  He walks 45 minutes to the station and takes a ‘tap-tap’ to school for about 50 cents a day.  He finds medical school very challenging, but he is managing to keep up by studying all of the time.  Sometimes it is hard to study because the apartment has intermittent electricity and there are no lights to read. He thinks he wants to be a pediatrician, and he is very excited about his future.

Helene Clervious, 25 years old, 4th year medical student at the Quisqueya Universite in Port-au-Prince.

Helene was born in the mountains and lived there for the first 12 years of her life.  She moved to Deschapelles to live with her cousins in order to go to a better school.  Her parents eventually moved to Deschapelles, where they had a plot of land and grew coffee.  Like Fednor and Delicier, Helene says that she is the first person to make it this far in her education and she thanks the scholarship fund for that privilege. She said traveling to school is a real challenge.  After a 30 minute walk to the station, she rides for over an hour on the ‘tap-tap’ for $2.00 one way.  (The price of gasoline in Haiti is now over $6.00 a gallon.)  She wants to be a surgeon after medical school, and she hopes that she will be able to work at the Hopital Albert Schweitzer when she graduates.

 

Emmanuelson Saturne: 24 years old, 2008 graduate from high school, will attend the University in the Fall.  He will major in computer science.

Emmanuelson has lived in Borel, a section of Deschapelles, all of his life.  He and his mother live alone.  His father died when he was two years old in a car accident in New York City, where he was a taxi driver.  He had a brother, but he died several years ago.  His mother and he have always had a difficult time earning enough money to put him in school.  She has a little plot of land, where she cultivates rice, but the business has not been very profitable.  There were many years when she was not able to send him to school.

He is very excited about attending the University in the fall.  I asked about his living arrangements, and he shared with us that he has an uncle in Port-au-Prince who will rent him a room with electricity and a toilet for $250.00 a year.   Electricity and toilets are luxuries that are hard to come by in Haiti!

Manisse Aimable: 21 years old, 2008 graduate from high school, will attend nursing school in the fall.

Manisse has been in the program for over three years, and she is now very excited about nursing school in the fall. She is so thankful for the scholarship program because there were many years that she had to drop out of school for lack of funds.  During those years, she would study on her own and copy notes to try to catch up with the other students.  Sometimes after several months passed, the school would allow her to return, if she had the tuition money.

Born and raised in Petite Riviere, she is the second of seven children.  Her father works in the Dominican Republic as a mason, and he comes home once a year and brings money for the family.  He stays for about a week and then must return.  Her mother has a little business selling food products that she brings home from Port-au-Prince.  She is not sure yet where she will live in Port-au-Prince; she has no relatives living there.  She is the first person in her family to ever graduate from high school and go to the university.  Her brothers only reached the 7th grade.