Digicel Haiti Foundation Partners With U.S. Government To Provide New Schools In Earthquake-Affected Communities In Haiti

The first school built under an innovative public-private partnership was opened yesterday by the Digicel Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). École Louis de Borno in Léogâne – the town located at the epicenter of the January 12th earthquake – will welcome 600 primary students when the new school year begins on October 4th. 

This is the first of a planned 50 schools by the Digicel Foundation to provide permanent and transitional schools for up to 30,000 children, at two shifts per day. Each modular classroom is composed of two ventilated 20-foot shipping containers. The schools will also have administration offices and sanitation and will be furnished with school desks, benches and blackboards provided by the Digicel Foundation. The modular schools have a construction time of about four weeks on site and, although considered transitional, can last up to ten years if necessary.

The project is also employing youths for the construction of the schools through the USAID-funded IDEJEN livelihood initiative. IDEJEN provides out-of-school youths aged 15 to 24 with basic, non-formal education and vocational training. This effort, which will employ up to 100 people at a pre-fabrication plant, in addition to those on site assembly, will get money to Haitian families in need, stimulate the economy, and help develop a workforce to participate in upcoming reconstruction efforts.

“We are delighted to see the work of so many people come to fruition today,” said Mme. Josefa Gauthier, Executive Chairman of the Digicel Foundation. “The Digicel Foundation, USAID, IDEJEN, engineering company Kentz and the management of the school, have created an innovative solution to respond to the needs of Haitian children after the earthquake. I am especially pleased that the school offers such a child-friendly learning environment compared to other transitional options.”

“In the aftermath of the earthquake, in which so many schools were destroyed and livelihoods interrupted, the need for this work became even more critical,” said USAID Haiti Mission Director, Carleene Dei. “This partnership with Digicel illustrates USAID’s commitment to exploring new and innovative approaches to addressing these challenges. This unique effort will simultaneously help tackle the educational, economic development, and job-training needs of Haitian communities through the planned school construction projects.”

The USAID partnership procured approximately 100 shipping containers for this project which were used as part of the Joint Task Force-Haiti’s humanitarian mission in the aftermath of the earthquake. The school in Léogâne will also receive a generous donation of classroom and reference books from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti’s Public Affairs Section.

Work has begun on the next site, also in the Léogâne area, for modular schools constructed through this partnership.