Haiti delays school year start after quake

·1-min read
Children play a board game at a camp for people who lost their home during the August 14, 2021 earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti (AFP/Richard Pierrin)

Haitian authorities announced Thursday they will delay the start of the school year in aftermath of last month's devastating earthquake.

Initially scheduled for September 6, schools will open September 21 for the majority of Haitian children in kindergarten through high school. In the three southern departments that were ravaged by the August 14 quake, classes will start on October 4.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said authorities need time to rebuild the areas affected by the quake and secure funds to pay teachers and parents in the impoverished island nation.

"For the schools to open, we have a lot of work to do. We have to remove the rubble and build structures to accommodate the children," Henry said in a brief address. "Whether they are in state schools, religious schools or private schools, all students in the South must go to school,"

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake devastated southwestern Haiti, killing more than 2,200 people and destroying tens of thousands of buildings, including many schools.

With the support of humanitarian partners, Haitian authorities are continuing to assess the extent of the damage in the departments of Nippes, Sud and Grand-Anse, including damage to hospitals, administrative and school buildings.

Nearly two months after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise at his home by a hit team, the island nation is still in severe political crisis.

Meanwhile, economic activity is undermined by gang clashes in the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince and in the provinces.

"The beginning of the school year is always very difficult in the country. Difficult because we live in a difficult socio-political and economic environment," Henry said.

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