L’Ecole de Choix is not your ordinary Haitian elementary school.
Located in Mirebalais, Haiti, L’Ecole de Choix (The School of Choice) revolutionizes Haitian education by focusing on leadership development, human dignity and respect in English, French and Creole-speaking classrooms. Choix ensures that high quality education is reaching those children living in the most extreme of poverty conditions in Haiti, and emphasizes creating better, stronger leaders to reduce corruption and better Haitian society.
The Facts: Haiti spends only 1.4 percent of its gross domestic product on education, making it 177th out of 186 countries in public education. In Haiti, 95 percent of schools do not have electricity, and 75 percent offer no materials or textbooks for their students. Most schools do not provide any meals, and teachers earn salaries below a living wage and often have achieved only a 6th grade level education.
Positive Choice: And that’s where L’Ecole de Choix comes in. According to Laura Hartman, a professor at DePaul University, Special Assistant to the University President for Haiti Initiatives and a board member for Choix, the school had a somewhat unique start. Zynga, the largest social game network, began offering its players the opportunity to contribute to through game play to non-profits in 2009. Laura claims that after the hurricane hit Haiti, “it immediately launched a campaign to allow its players to contribute to Haiti survivors. After giving a significant amount of funds to the World Food Programme for emergency relief, Zynga.org listened to its Haitian constituency who asked for a more sustainable impact on their community through a much-needed school in an underserved community.”
Choix teaches its students that education is a responsibility and should be honored and respected, though it is also fun and can inspire and bring hope within their lives. L’Ecole de Choix is also interested in creating sister programs with schools in the Chicagoland area, and has already started this process with schools such as the Francis W. Parker School and the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School.
L’Ecole de Choix no longer receives funding from Zynga, and needs outside funding. A school lunch at Choix costs just under $1 per day per child. Add a few more dollars, and they can purchase curriculum, vitamins, chalk and erasers. Laura explains that the board members work as volunteers, and because they maintain a lean administrative structure, “dollars contributed go directly to the education, health and welfare of these students, impacting their lives in a most significant manner.”
For more information on how to donate or contribute, please check out their website: ecoledechoix.org. You can also visit their blog for current updates and information on ways to help and stay connected with such a positive and meaningful project!
For more photos of the young students you are supporting, please click here.