Haiti is a small country occupying the western half of the island of Hispaniola. Unlike its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s official languages are French and French Creole, not Spnaish. With a population of just over 10 million, Haiti is the most populous Caribbean country and also the poorest in the western Hemisphere. The small nation has a history of political unrest, natural disasters, and extreme poverty. Three-quarters of the population lives on less than $2 a day, and infrastructure, especially in terms of basic sanitation, is lacking.
About St. Andre’s:
St. Andre’s School is a primary and secondary school located in Hinche, a city of 30,000 in Haiti’s central region. The school, which is supported by the California-based St. Dunstan’s Church, an episcopal ministry located in the Carmel Valley, has over 800 students, ranging in age from pre-school to 13th grade. The school is well-respected in the area, and many students travel from neighboring towns and regions to attend it. The curriculum is conducted in Haitian Creole until the third grade, when it switches to French. Teachers have very little pedagogical training, but usually have higher education in their given field. Classrooms have blackboards, but chalk is limited. There are no textbooks, although at the junior and high school levels, students have notebooks. English classes currently begin in the 7th grade are conducted only one hour per week.
Presently, the school has a computer lab with several old desktops and a few laptops, but the lab is open to the street and is more often used by the community. The 3G network does not work, and while there is a satellite dish on the roof, it needs repairs. There are frequent power outages, and although there are two solar panels on the roof, they do not work. The school also has a backup generator, but it is costly to run, so they are often without electricity.
The school serves one meal a day, using meal packets provided by Stop Hunger Now. For many students, this is their only meal of the day.
About this project:
We are working with One Laptop per Child (OLPC) to bring a technology-based English curriculum to St. Andre’s. OLPC has provided the school with twenty XO laptops. To learn more about how these laptops work, check out this description on the OLPC’s site. We will develop a weekend teacher-training workshop to help teacher’s understand how to work the new laptops and how to integrate them into the classroom, as well as the framework for an English curriculum for students aged 3rd through 6th grade. Our curriculum will focus on providing teachers with the confidence they will need to begin using the XO laptops in the classroom, and with the help of a Spring 2014 MIIS curriculum design course, the skills they will need to integrate English into the curriculum for grades 3 through 6. an
Our needs analysis was conducted primarily through a series of extensive interviews and meetings with a member of the MIIS faculty who is also involved with St. Andre’s. We also attended an OLPC conference in San Francisco and met with members of St. Dunstan’s church. There are currently two English teachers at the secondary level. The principal is currently seeking to hire one more English teacher for the primary level. There are also 15 English teachers in the surrounding area that may attend our teacher training workshop. We discovered that although teachers at St. Andre’s do have degrees in their respective fields, they receive no formal pedagogical training.
Although there are a variety of challenges such as frequent power outages, the need for a secure storage area for the laptops, and lack of reliable internet, the teachers at St. Andre’s seem excited about the incorporation of the XO laptops. Although our full needs analysis examined both students and teacher, we felt it necessary to focus on teachers and prepare them for the students’ curriculum that will be developed in the next semester. Based on our findings, our training curriculum will focus on pedagogical strategies and technology literacy.
To read our full needs analysis, complete with suggestions for future curricula, download the PDF below:
EFL Haiti Needs Analysis