Haiti's Economic Growth Initiative and CTE

By Dimattina, Cara | Techniques, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Haiti's Economic Growth Initiative and CTE


Dimattina, Cara, Techniques


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Foreign aid has been very instrumental in bolstering career and technical education (CTE) programming in improverished nations. In the past, international agencies like the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)and the International Labor Organization have advocated for organizations providing foreign aid to increase funding for CTE programs to help foster economic development; this resulted in "unusually high levels of funding by international development agencies," according to a 1983 report, "The Rise and Fall of Vocational Education." In the mid-1960s, for instance, the World Bank had the same number of loans out for CTE programs in developing countries as it did for general education.

The report noted "the historical record suggests that the first half of the 20th century witnessed a general, though variable rise in the number of vocational schools and the proportion of secondary vocational students. The introduction of vocational instruction in public schools followed closely the restructuring of national economies under industrial and corporate capitalism. By World War II, vocational education had become a central and legitimate element in the educational policies of development-oriented international agencies."

In the 1970s, World Bank support for career and technical programs grew and CTE programs in developing countries were receiving 53 percent of all education funding from the agency (Benavot). More recently, funding for CTE programs as foreign aid has dissipated, but studies show that organizations are looking to provide funding for such programming more efficiently and effectively.

In a study by the World Bank in 1993, "Skills for Productivity: Vocational Education and Training in Developing Countries," researchers found that skill training in the rural and urban informal sectors in developing countries may contribute more to the alleviation of poverty than training for modern sector wage employment (Middleton). They also found that in small low-income countries a strong participation by workers and employers in training and education was an effective way for programs to better respond to the needs of local businesses.

An example of a program that has begun to put these principles into action is the Economic Growth Initiative for Haiti (EGI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that offers a business development and mentoring program for university graduates just outside of Port au Prince. Its goal is to create and expand local entrepreneurship while also increasing opportunities for networking between the students and current local business owners.

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The idea for this project came about when Stephen Keppel began working as the director of external affairs for the Eouverture Cleary School, an NGO that provides secondary education to some of the poorest children in Haiti. It was his job to help graduating students apply to university or find jobs.

"In 2004, Haiti's economy was at a standstill due to a coup d'etat. There were not enough jobs to meet the needs of the qualified and educated young Haitians who were going out into the workforce," Keppel said.

But even before the coup d'etat, Haiti's situation was dire. According to the CIA World Fact Book, in 2003, 80 percent of Haiti's population was living below the poverty line and 54 percent were living in abject poverty. It was also noted that two-thirds of the population did not hold formal jobs. So Keppel talked to Patrick Moynihan, president and founder of the Louverture Cleary School, about some ideas he had to create opportunities for the graduates, and the two founded EGI shortly thereafter.

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