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Photograph of teacher reading to studentsFOKAL (Fondasyon Konesans ak Libete) was founded in 1991, in Haiti, a country marked by dictatorship and violence, plagued by illiteracy, unemployment and shortage of resources, extreme poverty and uncontrolled population growth. FOKAL's work has focused until now on education (Step by Step program, teacher training, debate program) and information (library program, internet), with special care being taken to integrate marginalized populations in the process of school reform as a way to structure communities around their schools and to facilitate interaction between populations and institutions. FOKAL has deliberately chosen children and youth as its target group, an has the great ambition to provide access to knowledge, books, the internet, tools of scientific learning and the opportunity to all for life as equal citizens. FOKAL's programs seek to facilitate openings to the world and to develop individual and collective empowerment and responsibility.

Tipa Tipa / Step by Step Haiti

Tipa Tipa/ Step by Step Haiti is one of the programs of the "Foundation Konesans as Liberete" (FOKAL), one of the Soros network foundations.

Tipa Tipa is a school program for children 0-12 and their families. This program offers quality and modern education opportunities to children from disadvantages environments using an individualized child-centered approach. The program also encourages participation form the families and local communities.

The program has built 5 model preschools and assisted 7 schools renovate their preschool buildings and general facilities. A total of twelve schools (32 preschool and 23 primary classrooms) are now equipped with developmentally appropriate classroom furniture. Fifteen schools involved in the program have received educational materials for preschool and grade one and two. Teachers from all 28 schools involved have received training on educational strategies for preschool through grade six.

Teachers of these schools are not only introduced to the child centered approach but are also given instruction on teaching methods for mathematics, experimental sciences, social sciences, art, Creole and language development and French as a second language. Issues concerning health, nutrition and hygiene are offered to teachers, children, families and other interested community members. Families receive specific training in organizational skills and strategies for supporting learning activities at home.

The specific challenges encountered by Tipa Tipa include:

  • Training teachers with very low general education levels;
  • Training teachers with almost no teacher training;
  • Difficult access and communication problems with schools located in remote areas.

In order to join forces with national institutions involved in education and to have them benefit from the Tipa Tipa experience, the program is developing partnerships with a special education institution and a teacher training institution. These partnerships will create opportunities for many in the education field to learn from Tipa Tipa and to create a forum for discussion of educational change in Haiti.