The story of Summits Education begins in a small classroom, full of earnest fifth graders, in a rural village in Haiti called Domond. The walls were freshly painted, the desks neatly arranged, and the students, sitting quietly in their pressed uniforms, were watching their teacher write on the board. My colleague Ludji and I were observing from the back of the classroom, both of us too tall for the tiny desks and chairs. “It's wrong." Ludji whispered to me, “The teacher is conjugating the verbs in French incorrectly.” We watched as the students copied the misinformation into their school books - a chorus of bright and eager students, most of them from critically-impoverished families. In that moment, we witnessed their futures made more vulnerable because 85 percent of their teachers lack basic qualifications.
What is the difference between going to school and getting an education?
Despite overwhelming evidence that demonstrates that teachers are the most important factor in determining student outcomes, far too often the focus is on ‘stuff’ when it comes to education reform in the developing world: schools are built, materials supplied, and finally, with whatever funds remain, investments are made in teachers. It’s an approach that is upside down in its implementation and it is failing some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.
At Summits, we are developing a teacher-centered approach to transforming education systems, and we have begun our work in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Here, we are managing 42 primary schools and implementing teacher-training programs, in addition to constructing a secondary school for high-performing students. We work in partnership with the public sector and in collaboration with other organizations whose programs strengthen our efforts.
Our goals for the coming year are ambitious and we will need your support. You are a part of a small and thoughtful group who recognizes the value in listening and learning before doing.
Thank you for being part of this growing community. There are mountains ahead, but I see summits, too.
P.S. We are gearing up for an official launch campaign in February, 2016. At that time, we will ask you to share our work with friends and family as we seek to build a community of supporters.