In sharp constrast to the US, public education is not readily available in Haiti. For many Haitian communities, there is no local public school. Even when a school exists in the community, many families do not have the financial resources to pay for books, transportation, and other school expenses. As a result, only about half of the Haitian children ever have the opportunity to attend school. In response to the lack of educational opportunity in Faugasse, Doorway to Peace began L’Ecole des Pelerins (the Pilgrim School).
The mission of L’Ecole des Pelerins is to specifically target the most disadvantaged students from the community who would otherwise have no opportunity to attend school. When selecting students, first priority is given to orphans, second priority to children from single parent families, and third priority is given to children from impoverished two parent families.
The headmaster of Pilgrim School addressing the students.
First and foremost, students who attend L’Ecole des Pelerins are provided with a rigorous academic education. All students are provided with a school uniform and books. Fees are based on a sliding scale dependent upon a student’s financial situation. Orphans attend for free, while those from single parent families or impoverished two parent families are charged a nominal fee.
Religion is not used as a selection criteria when choosing our students. However, Christianity is infused throughout the school. All of our teachers are Christians and regular lessons about the Bible and Christianity are part of the curriculum. We believe that providing education to both Christian and non-Christians is a tangible way to demonstrate Christ’s love to the entire community.
Since 2001, L’Ecole des Pelerins has grown from a single teacher in a single rented classroom into a complete primary school with seven grade levels (equivalent to American K-6 grades). The current school building was constructed in two phases in 2004 and 2007 on land which is owned by Doorway to Peace. Plans are underway to expand L’Ecole des Pelerins to the middle school grades (equivalent to American 7-9 grades).