To break the cycle of poverty, HCDF has been offering a quality education to the children of the community since the 1980s. L’Exode schools have developed an excellent educational program as exemplified by the high student exam scores. Parents are eager to enroll their children in the L’Exode schools, which currently include over 1,500 students in HCDF-supported schools across seven campuses. Responding to the tragic destruction of so many high schools in the 2010 earthquake, HCDF launched its own high school in 2012, partnering with a US university to assure the buildings are durable in earthquakes and other storms. The academic standards at L’Exode schools are as high as any in Haiti. HCDF extends even greater opportunities for its top high school graduates by offering university scholarships to advance beyond high school and then return to the community in leadership roles.
Unlike most of Haiti, nearly 100% of the school age children in Fond-des-Blancs go to school. The concept of beginning a child’s education at age three to five years old began when HCDF began encouraging preschool age children in the community to attend their school. Nearly 30 years later, the entire educational philosophy of the community has changed. Today, it is not uncommon for a child in Fond-des-Blancs to graduate from high school, and several are going onto a university education thanks to the support made available through HCDF contributor donations.
“So many young students died in overcrowded schools [during the 2010 earthquake],” said Jean Thomas, HCDF Executive Director. “So many century-old government buildings collapsed along with countless substandard homes. ‘Build better’ become a national slogan. Yet, years later, it is sad to say that not much has improved. The chatter has subsided. The NGO’s have moved on. Thankfully, a few visionaries have remained committed to the dream of a better Haiti. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is one of the few. Working with leaders in the rural community of Fond-des-Blancs, professors and students have invested their skills to design a better academic structure aimed at providing a quality education in a modern and safe environment. The University has addressed two core issues of the post-earthquake Haiti: safety and decentralization. For this they have earned the respect and appreciation of the people of Fond-des-Blancs and created a model that should be replicated in the rest of the country.”