World ORT changes the face of training in Haiti


Hundreds of Haitians will be looking forward to a brighter future now that World ORT-NPH’s vocational school “モ the only school of its kind in the capital, Port-au-Prince “モ has opened in earnest. Since the beginning of the island’s school year on October 1, the 4.5-acre campus has been bustling with 175 students “モ more than twice the enrolment for its preliminary session in April.

The students are divided among four streams: Paramedics and Telecom for those who have graduated high school and Electricity and Plumbing for those who are post-Grade 9 “モ essential skills which will provide graduates with solid careers as they contribute to the country’s reconstruction.

“There is still some work to be done but we stand on solid foundations which permit us to be confident looking ahead,”? said the Head of World ORT’s International Cooperation office in Geneva, Daniel Kahn, on returning from a site visit.

Funded by the Mexican Alliance for Haiti and the JDC, the school is part of a large campus belonging to World ORT’s local partner, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH), and has four large, high quality aluminium prefab buildings: a two-storeyed general studies and administration building with 10 classrooms, two buildings with four big workshops each, and a 300-person capacity auditorium.

“Our goal is to train 300 students a year,”? Mr Kahn said. “We offer them what is a new vocational model to Haiti but one which is used to tremendous effect by the ORT vocational school in Rue de Rosier, Paris: “リalternance’, in which students alternate weekly between the classroom and the workplace. The workplace experience not only enhances the training, it helps graduates to find a job.”?

The average age of the students is 25, which is higher than expected. The students are also more educated than expected: most of the plumbing and electricity students, who only need 9th grade to qualify for the course, have completed 11th grade “モ quite an achievement in a country where only 12 children finish 12th grade out of every 1,000 who start first grade.

In addition, most of the students come from poor families, many of them referred to the school via NPH institutions, such as orphanages.

“In accordance with NPH and World ORT’s mission in Haiti, priority is given to those students from the neediest sectors of the population,”? Mr Kahn said. “However, this means that even though the tuition is much cheaper than comparable schools it is still beyond the financial reach of many students. Much of the April intake has yet to pay fees: money will have to be raised to provide grants.”?

Money will also need to be found to buy at least one more generator to meet the burgeoning school’s electrical needs although there are long term plans to introduce solar energy.

“Haiti was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere even before the catastrophic earthquake in 2010 so renewable energy is an attractive option. And, given the plans to hook the entire compound up to solar power, that is likely to become the main field of study and apprenticeship for those on our two-year Electricity diploma course,”? Mr Kahn said.

The new school is World ORT’s second project in Haiti; its programme to train construction workers in earthquake-resistant building techniques has closed after benefiting more than double the original goal of 700 graduates, thanks to new partnerships with UNESCO, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Fondation de France.

“The fact that the programme has been duplicated in other parts of Haiti shows that we were right,” Mr Kahn said. “With our help, our local partner Les ateliers-Ecole de Camp Perrin has published a handbook for builders on anti-seismic techniques in French and Creole and prepares a TV program to raise public awareness of the need to use these techniques.”