A large part of what sets YSI apart from most other aid organizations is our dedication to honoring and integrating local perspectives into our initiatives. In order to recognize the needs and expectations of the people we serve, we must take the time to talk to them, ask them questions, and hear their ideas. The community development sector is the foundation of YSI and remains the group primarily responsible for conducting surveys to gather opinions from local communities.
Our focus this winter was to learn about education in greater Léogâne. The UMass research advocacy team did a systematic investigation throughout the fall semester, creating an education survey for the winter community development teams to conduct. Led by Emily Adelsberger and Melaney Brown, sessions two and three had community development teams that collected data from more than 130 people living across four towns within the Léogâne area.
The survey consisted of questions regarding the number of school-aged children currently enrolled in a program, the cost of school, and the logistics of getting to and from the school’s location. Some responses, such as cost, had significant ranges (250-4000 Haitian gourdes per child, per year).Other answers were almost unanimous: we found that most people value the quality of their child’s education above the price and location. However, people do admit that all three (quality, cost, and location) are important factors. Transportation is a constant frustration for people because it can be dangerous and is an extra expense. Also, people tend to think that school itself is too expensive. Over 95% of people interviewed said that if a foreign, non-governmental aid organization were to open a school nearby, they would send their children there instead. When asked why they would do this, most people thought that it would be either a better school, less expensive, and closer to their homes, so they would save money on transportation. Lastly, some people hoped that a foreign-established school would teach their children to speak English.
Overall, the community development team discovered that the types of schools, their locations, and respective costs varies greatly throughout the surveyed area. However, there is a general consensus that education carries great importance. Each person we talked to agreed that education makes for a better life in the future. The people we talked to demonstrated great determination to make sacrifices today for the sake of a better tomorrow by investing in the education of their children.