Anuradha Sachdev is a graduate student with the College of Education and an assistant director of early childhood education at Northampton Community College.
Haiti has received considerable attention from the international community as a result of its recent natural disaster with aid workers and agencies flocking to Port Au Prince to lend a hand of support. Foreign governments have promised substantial financial aid to rebuild the country. The challenge now lies in creating a strategic plan and structure of delivery that would maximize long term sustainability for Haiti’s people. Helping Haiti build its infrastructure from ground up is one of the first steps towards stabilization of the country and will take time even with the help of foreign aid and expertise.
One area that cannot be overlooked is education. Haiti has lost thousands of educated workers in this disaster. Investment in education sector from early years to higher education will bring long term returns. Empowering its young through education will build the country’s talent pool that understands its context and can take a leadership role in moving the country along the path of self determination, innovation and advancement. Many believe that India’s early post independence investment in education has contributed to its current prominent role in the world economy. Policy makers must include Haitians in developing a system of education that is contextualized to Haiti’s needs. Given the history of aid money in Haiti, a structure of checks and balances will need to be created that will support local efforts initiated by Haitians while requiring accountability and giving them a stake in its success. I would also consider including information about international aid as part of the required curriculum to educate Haitians about the available opportunities, their rights and responsibilities in building their country with international aid money.