OAS Assistant Secretary General backs education initiative in Haiti

ATLANTA – Supporting an initiative to improve education in Haiti, the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, advocated a twin-track approach that would include both short- and long-term objectives.

He called for quick-impact socioeconomic programs that would improve living conditions for Haitians, as well as sustained efforts to build capacity and strengthen institutions in order to advance democratic governance, security and development.

Ambassador Ramdin made his remarks at The Carter Center in Atlanta, addressing a recent forum on “The Role of the Private Sector in Improving Educational Outcomes in Haiti.” Haitian government officials, private sector leaders, representatives of the international community and education specialists participated in the forum, which explored possibilities for donor support to public-private partnerships in education.

The meeting was organized by the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL), in association with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), The Carter Center, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and CIFAL Atlanta, an affiliate of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

The OAS Assistant Secretary General called for a realistic program based on Haiti’s development needs. Young people are a country’s key asset, he said, and their education is therefore a priority. Ambassador Ramdin said entrepreneurship training and e-training in governance and education could be provided by the OAS through the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT).

Providing access to quality education at all levels in Haiti is not confined to formal education, but must include skills training and on-the-job training, Ramdin told the meeting. And while primary, secondary and tertiary education would need a huge influx of capital and skills, he said, programs could be developed in the short term in which Haitian experts in the diaspora could return to their country to share their skills and help train people.

Ambassador Ramdin further pointed out that Haiti’s recent readmission to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and entry into the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as a borrowing member raised prospects for closer cooperation with CARICOM. To boost education, he suggested a public-private partnership to set up a University of the West Indies campus in Haiti.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark chaired the meeting, which was a follow-up to one held in Ottawa in September 2005, the brainchild of Clark and then-IDB President Enrique Iglesias. That first event generated new opportunities to engage donors, and the Haitian private sector has participated in meetings of the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF) for Haiti. The IDB, in collaboration with the OAS, is planning a meeting in Haiti for later this year to develop a public-private strategy for education in Haiti.

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