PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The official reopening of schools among the ruins of Haiti’s capital brought unbridled joy Monday to students like 12-year-old Moris Rachelle.GALLERY: Russell Simmons
After nearly three months on the streets with nothing to do but help her mother look after two younger brothers, Moris wore white ribbons in her hair as she ran, laughed and hugged friends she had not seen since the Jan. 12 catastrophic earthquake.
“All my friends are here,” she gushed, smiling broadly. “I’m happy they are not under the rubble.”
Registration for the academic year provided a major step toward normalcy for Haiti’s children, and offered the first sense for how many of them have survived.
But Haiti’s hard-hit education system is just beginning to recover.
The yard at Moris’ public school in the western Carrefour-Feuilles district of Port-au-Prince remained covered with smashed concrete, glass, torn notebook paper. Parents did not want their children to enter a pair of concrete buildings still standing for fear they might give way from damage or an aftershock.
And there was no sign of the tents promised by the Education Ministry in sight, so the school eventually sent all the students home until next Monday.
Only a few hundred schools are expected to open this week in a country where the quake destroyed some 4,000 schools. Many are waiting for tents to teach under because nobody wants to put children back under concrete roofs.
Some community-led learning centers already opened in homeless camps, but there had been no formal education in the capital until Monday, said Edward Carwardine, a UNICEF spokesman in Port-au-Prince. He said it was impossible to say how many schools reopened Monday.