Haiti’s youth in turmoil

Saturday, January 23, 2010 – Globe and Mail

Haiti is in many ways a nation of youth – about half the population is under 18 years old, and 40 per cent under 15; more than a tenth of the country is between the ages of 5 and 9. But its children are also among the most exploited and undereducated in the hemisphere: Half the adult population is illiterate, and an entire underclass of children is relegated to domestic pseudo-slavery.

The country’s roiled politics and perpetually dysfunctional government has left a vacuum when it comes to public education, and private schools have become a popular micro-enterprise. A paucity of national education standards makes it even more difficult for Haiti to break out of poverty because its population is so chronically undereducated.

“Businesses in Haiti constantly complain they can’t get people to work. Anyone who has skills leaves, and [businesses] are forced to bring in people from the outside,” said Carlo Dade, executive director for FOCAL, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas.

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Haiti’s cultural capital a hub of Canadian involvement

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The epicentre of Canada’s post-quake relief efforts is a once-picturesque, Carnavale-crazy seaside city on Haiti’s south coast. Artsy Jacmel’s burgeoning tourist industry was supposed to be leading the country toward economic independence before the city was devastated by the earthquake – schools, hospitals, storied architecture and brand-new hotels flattened.

The port city of 40,000 has an obvious Canadian connection as the family home of Governor-General Michaëlle Jean. But it has also been a significant centre of Canada’s public- and private-sector involvement in Haiti for more than a decade. And the thousands of troops and millions of dollars in Canadian aid pouring into devastated Jacmel could be as strategic as altruistic.

For Fanes Boursiquot, however, Jacmel is simply “the most beautiful place in Haiti.”

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