PORT-AU-PRINCE — In 2010, Haiti was hit by a 7.0 earthquake which took 90,000 lives and displaced more than 1.5 million people. In 2016, during the midst of recovery, Haiti encountered Hurricane Matthew, which left 35,000 homeless. These disasters forced many to halt their daily lives to support family and friends, as well as themselves, recover. The Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2017 (H.R. 162) aims at helping those who have had to put their educational endeavors on hold due to these tragedies to continue working towards their academic ambitions.
Sponsored by Representative Alcee L. Hastings, the Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2017 would institute a scholarship program for Haitian students who were pursuing a collegiate education, but whose studies were interrupted by natural disasters. The program would be established through the U.S. State Department, and would apply to Haitian students who were enrolled full-time at either a Haitian university or a university within the U.S.
This act has the potential to change the lives of those impacted by the natural disasters. Students who use this scholarship program to complete their education are in turn required to return to Haiti. With their knowledge acquired from achieving a higher education, the intention is that they will be able to help their country recover, as well as boost the economy and improve livelihoods.
Access to quality education is a major problem in Haiti, with the majority of the population struggling to access basic schooling. Although the government is devoted to strengthening its education, issues arise from lack of funding, challenges in teacher training, and the difficulty of natural disasters. However, with the university graduates returning to Haiti from this scholarship program, there is much more potential in improving the education crisis.
The Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2017 was just introduced to the house and referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The act was cosponsored by five representatives.
If passed, this act can change the lives of the estimated 2.1 million people affected by these natural disasters. It has the potential to impact those able to complete a higher education, and also those who are helped by the returning graduates.
– Kelly Hayes