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According to the World Innovation Summit for Education, only 22% of Haitians move from primary school into secondary school. While literacy has increased sharply over the last two decades, half of Haitians cannot read or write. The few Haitians that receive a higher education generally do not stay in Haiti. According to World Bank estimates, over 80% of college graduates live outside of the country. In fact, nearly half of Haiti’s GDP comes from money sent home from Haitians living abroad, making Haiti’s human capital its primary export.
However, this money, called remittances, does not necessarily promote development. A World Bank report on remittances in Latin America states that “remittances are more effective in raising investment and enhancing growth in countries with higher levels of human capital, strong institutions, and good policy environments”. Human capital requires education. Modern scientific research has shown that education attainment correlates to an increase in productivity, life expectancy, voting and civic engagement, and even happiness.
The Haitian government spends about 10% of its budget on education, but it accounts for only about 2.5% of the country’s GDP. This puts it near the bottom of educational spending by national governments, according to the World Bank. About 8% of all secondary schools in Haiti are public, and of these, government monies cover only an estimated 20% of their financial needs. Many schools, both public and private, lack basic facilities such as running water, electricity, and toilets, and few schools provide low-cost or free meals to students. Less than 10% of private schools are licensed and only 7% of Catholic schools, the leading provider of education in Haiti, have access to the Internet. Young Haitians are not learning enough about their health either. There are widespread misconceptions about the spread of disease, particularly water-borne and sexually transmitted infections.
The 2010 earthquake was particularly devastating for the country’s education infrastructure. Along with the Ministry of Education in Port-au-Prince, an estimated 4,000 schools were destroyed or damaged. The quake killed an estimated 38,000 students and over 1,300 teachers. In 2016, mother nature struck again with Hurricane Matthew, which killed over a thousand people and flattened huge portions of the southwest, including thousands of homes and schools.
The extreme lack of human capital in Haiti is the basis for the founding of PIK. The organization wants to build and fund several large public secondary schools around Haiti so that it can begin to resolve some of the issues regarding the shortage of investment in education and the flight of human capital. PIK wants the schools to provide students with amenities not found in most schools, such as proper nutrition, healthcare, and modern facilities, so that students are immediately pulled students from poverty and are healthier and more productive during their studies. Many of the opportunities and conveniences that PIK wishes to provide can currently only be experienced abroad. PIK hopes that in providing these experiences, it will lead to students staying in Haiti to build their country up rather than fleeing for a better life in the United States and elsewhere.
World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). (2011). Education in Haiti: An Overview of Trends, Issues, and Plans. Doha, Qatar: Qatar Foundation.
Fajnzylber, P., & López, J. H. (2008). The Development Impact of Remittances in Latin America. In P. Fajnzylber, & J. H. López, Remittances and Development: Lessons from Latin America (pp. 1-19). Washington DC: World Bank.
Guillermo, P. (2008). Foreward. In P. Fajnzylber, & J. H. López, Remittances and Development: Lessons from Latin America (p. xix). Washington DC: World Bank.
World Bank. (2008). Haiti: Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Review. [Country Study]. Washington Dc: international Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Ogunade, A. O. (2011). Human Capital Investments in the Developing World: An Analysis of Praxis. Schmidt Labor Research Center Seminar Series, 24 pages.
Miyamoto, K., & Schuller, T. (2010). Chapter 1: Introduction. In Improving Health and Social Cohesion through Education (pp. 15-26). Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
Calderón, C., Fajnzylber, P., & López, J. H. (2008). Remittances and Growth: The Role of Complementary Policies. In P. Fajnzylber, & J. H. López, Remittances and Development: Lessons from Latin America (p. 366). Washington DC.