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9054: Haitian education minister resigns (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Haitian education minister resigns

September 5, 2001

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haitian Education Minister Georges Merisier said 
Wednesday he had resigned, but declined to explain the reason for his 
departure just a day after the start of the school year.

Merisier, a former staff member of the education office who was sworn in 
March 2 with the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jean-Marie Cherestal, stepped 
down Tuesday, he told Reuters.

``It's true that I resigned and that I sent a letter to Aristide and 
Cherestal,'' he said. The resignation letter has not been made public.

Despite pressure from teacher unions and struggling parents to postpone the 
opening day of classes, schools opened their doors Monday. Merisier said the 
school year needed to be extended to improve Haiti's quality of education.

Like other Haitian institutions, the education system suffers from the 
country's grinding poverty. Schools seldom have enough desks and materials 
for students and adult literacy is about 45 percent.

Many Haitian parents struggle to find money for uniforms, books and tuition. 
Turnout for the first three days of school was light, local radio stations 
and teachers reported, even though the government provided some uniforms, 
books and transportation.

Only 45 percent of children attend primary school, according to the U.S. 
State Department. The Haitian government said just 15 percent attend 
secondary school.

Haiti, the Americas' poorest country, is struggling to strengthen its 
democratic institutions after decades of dictatorship and military rule.

A political impasse between Aristide's ruling Lavalas Family party and his 
political opposition over flawed legislative elections in May 2000 has 
resulted in the suspension of more than $500 million in desperately needed 
foreign aid.
Copyright  2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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