WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over the past nine years, poverty-stricken Haiti has been affected by several natural disasters. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010 that caused a high death toll and displacement as well as well as damage or complete destruction of 3,978 school buildings. Of note, about 80 percent of the buildings of the State University of Haiti were destroyed during the earthquake.
Six years later, the country had to weather yet another storm — this time: Hurricane Matthew. The major natural disaster affected thousands of lives and resulted in $1 billion worth of damage or about 11 percent of the country’s GDP. To this day, the country is in recovery mode in many areas including education.
In an effort to address the gap in education, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20) proposed a bill to the United States Congress in early January of this 2019. The Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2019 focuses on Haitian students who were affected by the earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Here are five things to know about the Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2019.
5 Facts About the Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2019
- Rep. Hastings proposed a new scholarship fund focusing on the students of Haiti. As stated previously, the State University of Haiti was greatly affected by the earthquake in 2010. This new bill aims to create a scholarship program for full-time and part-time students who were affected by either the 2010 earthquake or Hurricane Matthew in 2016. These students’ studies were interrupted by unforeseen natural disasters.
- Students must submit an application to the Assistant Secretary of State of Education and Cultural Affairs in order to be considered for the scholarship opportunity. According to the bill text, preference will be given to students who are “studying subjects of importance to Haiti’s long-term social, economic, or political development.” Applicants should either be full-time or part-time students at a Haitian university or a university in the United States.
- If an affected student receives an acceptance of the scholarship program proposed by Democratic Rep. Hastings, the duration of the scholarship will be one academic year. However, if the student continues to have good academic standing and excellent academic achievements, they may apply again to renew their scholarship. The scholarship cannot be renewed more than six times.
- The scholarship program will provide students affected by the earthquake and Hurricane Matthew a monetary amount that will equal the total costs of tuition. Rep. Hastings bill will also propose to present grants to universities and institutions in the United States with a substantial number of Haitian students as well as presenting grants to Haitian universities and institutions.
- Lastly, graduates that received the scholarship provided by the Haitian Educational Empowerment Act, will be required to return to Haiti two years after they have graduated. The reason for this is to encourage students to help stimulate growth towards the long terms goals of development in areas such as economics, politics and society.
The Haitian Educational Empowerment Act of 2019 encourages the students of Haiti to continue their goals of receiving an education during difficult times of natural disasters. In a press release, Rep. Hastings, he hopes that this act and scholarship program will help the future of many students that are aspiring to be lawyers, doctors, and teachers in Haiti.
– Logan Derbes