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History and Background

Haiti Lumiere de Demain was established in 1998 by Louisner (Louis) Elneus, a native of Haiti who currently resides in Stratford, Connecticut, USA. After graduating from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, Mr. Elneus worked for a time at the United Nations Association in New York as assistant policy researcher/analyst and at the Lester B. Pearson Peacekeeping Training Center in Nova Scotia, Canada.

He joined the International Peace Academy as assistant to Dr. Chetan Kuma to help implement a peace project in Haiti. Mr. Elneus later join the International Executive Service Corps/Global Access Corporation in Stamford, working on market related projects in the newly independent states in Eastern Europe.

Reflecting on the many opportunities opened to him by his own education, Mr. Elneus has committed himself to helping reduce the high rate of illiteracy in his homeland. Through Haiti Lumiere de Demain/Haiti’s Light of Tomorrow, he hopes to assist new generations of Haitians to think for themselves and become positive contributing members to their communities.

Why Haiti Lumiere de Demain exist?
The Haitian education system is in crisis. High rates of illiteracy have decimated any hopes of the education system from rebuilding itself into a viable entity. The illiteracy rates in Haiti are at an astonishing 52% according to the World Bank. Only an estimated 47% of children eligible for schooling actually attend. Furthering the educational crisis, only 22% of students actually continue on to secondary school.

In Haiti, education represents a heavy financial burden on many poor families, especially in the rural areas, where only 26% of the school-age population has access to any type of formal education. Only 20% of the public educational expenditures go to the rural areas where 75% of the population lives.

The lack of any adequate formal education system has created and complicated the illiteracy problem in the country. Since its independence in 1804, Haiti has not been able to build its institutions and as a catastrophic consequence, Haiti does not provide the greatest majority of its citizens with basic education. Access to education is one of the fundamental human rights we are afforded.

The education system in the countryside:
The education system in Haiti rarely reaches the children of the countryside where three-fourths of the population lives. The lack of educational opportunities in the provinces is three-fold: scarcity of teachers, a lack of governmental education policy, and the country’s economic reliance on agriculture, which values child labor more than a child’s education.

Thus, children are left victims of their own circumstances. Without any education, and consequently without learning how to read and write, Haiti’s children are left without any hope for a brighter future. Schools in rural Haiti often have no walls or desks, and were often never meant to be schools in the first place.

Additionally, the teachers in Haiti have been victims of the same educational system and therefore are unable to teach the next generation. Teachers in the provinces of Haiti are often not educated themselves. An adult having completed six years of education is considered qualified to in turn teach through the sixth grade.

Life in Haiti:
As many studies have shown, there is a direct relationship between literacy and poverty. It constitutes a vicious cycle in which one begets the other. This is the trap Haiti finds itself in. Haiti is currently ranked 150th out of 170 countries in the Human Development Report, (HDI being a measure of GDP per capita, life expectancy, and educational attainment), and is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti is behind in every statistic when compared with other countries in the region. Illiteracy and the lack of educational opportunities only add to the tolerance for widespread political corruption and maintain an increased culture of dependency that hinders development. The current conditions in Haiti will only guarantee the continuation of political turmoil and economic stagnation that have plagued the country over the past 200 years.

Without direct efforts to raise the literacy levels of Haiti Haitians will not be able to contribute to the rebuilding of their own country or the development of their region. In order to break this unending cycle of abject poverty in Haiti, Haitians must currently rely on the international donor community and Haitians living abroad to help their country overcome its education and literacy crisis.

Investment in education is fundamental for economic and social development, poverty alleviation and the end of political corruption. Education will allow a new generation of Haitians to think for themselves and become positive contributing members within their communities. In all democratic societies education remains the catalyst that drives and sustains both, political reform and economic development.

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