The Esperance School, Haiti: Fostering Literacy among the Surage Population


In 1804, the Haitian people united to win independence from the French. However, only a small percentage of the population continues to control the country’s wealth. The country has a chronic history of political instability and violence that has hindered the development of its educational system; impoverishment and illiteracy continue to plague the majority of the people. The cost of schooling rests primarily with the parent, especially those living in rural areas, where public schools are sparse. Small household incomes, limited access to free public education, the distance to schools, and high repetition rates all contribute to the reason why almost half of Haiti’s children are at least two years behind in school in terms of their age and grade level. Haiti refers to these children as “surage” or over age.

This study attempts to identify ways one rural elementary school in Haiti, the Espérance School, can promote literacy among its “surage” population. It focuses on their short school life expectancy and essays answers to the question of whether or not the school curriculum can be adapted to help them attain literacy.

Parents, current and former students, and teachers of the Espérance were interviewed. People working in the field of education were consulted as well as staff and clients of non-governmental organizations, and data from the Internet was reviewed.

An analysis of data collected reveals that the Espérance School students have a tremendous desire to be literate. As well, their parents desire for them to be literate, and they believe in schooling as a means to improve their lives. However, often a lack of finances dictates a short school life expectancy. The data disclose that alternative education programs may better respond to the needs of the “surage” population at the Espérance School.


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | International and Comparative Education

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