I woke at the Engle’s house and talked with John and Merline, catching up with my two favorite people in Haiti. The previous night’s journey up the detour road had me worried that I’d be able to find my way on my own, so John asked one of his workers to escort me, giving directions. I was also worried about the 45 minutes it took, given what would likely be a tight drive to and from the workshop next week.

Driving down I took note of the turns … left, left, left, left, left … easy! Also for some reason it took me 25 minutes instead of 45. So the detour wasn’t an obstacle after all. I made it to the Montana just in time to see Benaja and my new friend Fequiere. Also in the picture is Dominique Hudicort, sister of Caroline, one of our partners.

 

The conference started with a talk by Creutzer Mathurin, from the Ministry of Education, whom I met with in February.  He spoke of the education situation in Haiti, citing some sobering statistics:

  • 4628 schools were destroyed in the earthquake
  • 69% of Haiti’s population is less than 20 years old
  • more than 500,000 children are not in school
  • more than 3 million people considered to be illiterate
  • 70% of teachers are underqualified (do not meet ministry’s norms)
  • 80% of secondary school teachers have already reached retirement age

 

We then heard from Jeffrey Sachs via Skype, who talked about his work in Africa.  There didn’t seem to be much substance to what he had actually accomplished.  He was the first of the day to say, “We’ll make educational content for Haiti.”   The next speaker was from MIT who talked about OpenCourseWare, again suggesting “We’ve solved the problem, just use our stuff.”  In the question and answer period, a Haitian gentleman stood up and suggested that Haitian materials need to created for Haitian needs.  This brought applause from the audience.  Later on, Mike Truncano from the World Bank said, “(Don’t) Assume you can just import content from somewhere else,” which again brought applause.

Surrounding the talks, I made many great connections with people, especially those in Martelly’s transistion team and others from the Ministry of Education.  Many said that they would attend our courseware workshop on Thursday morning.

Midway through the day, I got an email from Richard Morse that our rooms at the Oloffson were confirmed, which was a big relief.  We were hoping for more space to do laptop prep, and I knew that the trainers were looking forward to staying in a hotel, rather than tents at John’s house.  After the presentations, there was a reception and dinner.  At one point, I was sitting next to Microsoft and IDB to my right and UNESCO and World Bank to my left.  While there I wondered what everyone would think if I told them my own budget … how much I can get done for what must be a pittance compared to their budgets.

After dinner, I drove with Adam, who had shown up midway through the day, to the Oloffson, after a few missed turns along the way.  I simply loved being at the Oloffson again.  The art, the music, the architecture …  it’s a true gem, unmistakably unique.  We spoke with Richard Morse for a bit, then went to bed in what must be the nicest room in the hotel, the Jonathan Demme room, with a wonderful balcony.  I fell to sleep happy.

 

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