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Date: Fri, 15 Sep 1995 17:36:08 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@crl.com>
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@crl.com>
Subject: (fwd) Haiti: Update (Sept. 13, 1995) (fwd)
Message-Id: <Pine.SUN.3.91.950915173516.2727C-100000@crl6.crl.com>

Initiation of the 1995 School Year

Haiti Update, 13 September 1995

President Aristide announced during a recent visit to Cap Haitian that, as part of the Presidential Commission for the Initiation of the 1995 School Year, the government was purchasing school supplies and school buses, refurbishing various schools, reducing the prices for school books by 80% through subsidies, providing 90,000 scholarships for the poor, and forbidding registration fees, commonly used in the past to exact money from students and their families. The Commission has organized fundraising efforts and is receiving generous support from both Haitians inside the country as well as the Tenth Department. The Presidential initiative is a step towards improving education levels and reducing Haiti's terrible illiteracy rate, estimated at 80 to 85%.

The government reached an agreement with the book publishers, who will sell books to the student population at 80% reduced prices, with the Government covering the difference in cost. After this program was announced, small-scale booksellers, many of whom operate in street markets, expressed concerns that their own businesses would be undercut. On Sept. 4, President Aristide invited these small-scale booksellers to the National Palace.to discuss their concerns. An agreement was reached to pay the booksellers for the difference between the new selling price and the cost of the books they had already purchased.

On International Literacy Day, September 8, President Aristide asked every citizen in Haiti to mobilize and participate in the literacy efforts throughout the country. It is indispensable that every person learn to read and write, to allow them to have some tools in hand to fight against destitution, ignorance, injustice, and exploitation. If during 200 years the people have not learned how to read and write in Haiti ,it means that some people did not want them to learn it.

Many Haitians have been highly critical about the lack of government progress towards national literacy. On August 26 the Jean-Marie Vincent Foundation organized a national day of reflection on literacy in order to encourage a national literacy campaign.