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#715: Creole Literacy Program is growing (fwd)


Published Sunday, October 10, 1999, in the Miami Herald 
 Creole Literacy Program is growing _____by HANS MARDY

 The Catholic Charities-Pierre Toussaint Center in Little Haiti will
expand its Creole Literacy Program by offering Creole classes starting
this month in North Miami and Homestead. Even though illiteracy is a
major problem for many members of the low-income immigrant community,
getting them to register for educational programs is a big challenge for
center officials. ``Convincing those people to come to register is not
an easy task,'' said Emile M. Viard, literacy program administrator.
``There is nothing wrong if someone cannot read. It's not a shame. We
are here to help them.'' The center plans to hold a registration drive
from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday at St. James Catholic Church, 601 NW 131st St.,
for Haitians living in the North Miami area. Another registration drive
is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Coffo Center, 21 S. Krome
Ave., for those living in the Homestead area. Registration is free for
the one-year study program, but there are requirements for
 entering. Haitians who have green cards based on political asylum, or
those who have I-94 immigration forms can sign up. In either of those
cases, they must have been in the United States for no more than seven
years. For those who qualify, books, day care and transportation are
available. The Creole literacy program is designed to develop skills in
formal grammar, letter recognition, sentence formation, phonetics and
basic reading and writing in Creole among Haitian adults. It is also
designed to help them build greater self-confidence, understand their
environment and adjust themselves to the demands of American society.
 Since the center started the literacy program in 1992, more than 500
students have graduated from the program. Most of them are enrolled in
English as a Second Language or vocational training classes. Last month,
the center received a $400,000 grant from the Refugee Program
 Administration of the state's Department of Children and Families to
expand the 7-year-old Creole literacy program throughout the Haitian
community in South Florida. The center is passing out fliers,
advertising the program on Creole radio shows and urging other community
centers to refer candidates to the literacy program. About 10 staff
members will run the program. Classes will be offered from 6 to
 9:30 p.m. weekdays. Center officials expect to reach at least 250
Haitians in South Florida. ``The program is very important for our
community. We will need to help those who cannot sign their own name,''
said Viard.
 For more information, call the center at 305-758-2462.