Strong Beginnings: Developing the whole child in Haiti

Funded by: USAIDCountry: HaitiDate Range: 2020-2024Project Lead: Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)Notre Dame Collaborators: Institute for Educational Initiatives, Pulte InstituteContact: Danice Guzmán

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than a fifth of children enter school malnourished, while the vast majority of Haiti’s primary school teachers lack the training and materials needed to teach students to read and write in early grades. As a result of the low levels of teacher training and lack of first-language reading instruction in early grades, 49 percent of Haitian students cannot read a single word when they enter the third grade, and almost 50 percent of the adult population is illiterate.

Recognizing the impact of the University of Notre Dame’s efforts to improve childhood literacy in Haiti, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded an $8 million grant to the University to expand its early-grade literacy and social-emotional learning programs and improve early childhood development.

With USAID’s support, Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Haiti and Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (GC-DWC), in partnership with the Pulte Institute for Global Development, have begun work on Strong Beginnings: Leveraging the home, school and church to develop the whole child in Haiti. Notre Dame, with funding from Porticus and the Kellogg Foundation, is working with Catholic Relief Services and the national office for Catholic schools in Haiti to serve more than 25,000 students and their families in two departments — similar to provinces — in Haiti over the next four years. USAID support, which will go to three additional departments, will allow Strong Beginnings to address developmental and learning needs of children by leveraging the systems that most directly affect their lives: the home, the school and the church. 

The Pulte Institute is supporting the monitoring and evaluation of the project.  For monitoring, Pulte Institute researchers supported the definition of key indicators to measure throughout the project.  For evaluation, researchers are supporting the design of a randomized control trial to evaluate the impact of certain components of the project.  Pulte Institute researchers are also adapting and implementing early grade reading and socio-emotional learning assessments. 

Read the initial press release announcing the project online here

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