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Batay Ouvriye (‘Workers Struggle’) is forwarding the public the Chatelain (Lower Artibonite) Community School Management Committee’s first semester report. This school, which the State was supposed to manage, never gave the population any satisfaction; worse, those in charge let the buildings fall into ruin while they spent the funds allocated for the school for their own purposes – we aren’t even sure if they’re not continuing to receive funds destined to the school. Therefore, only through a dire struggle against the reactionaries in the area were we, at Batay Ouvriye , finally able to take over the school, asking all the workers to take their responsibilities in order to form several committees that will take charge of the school. Thus the management committee has worked together with other committees like the academic committee, the contact committee etc…

The process is moving forward in genuine democracy, large and active, where everyone who wants to participate can do so, giving their points of view and mostly collectively controlling the common interest.

We should also state that it is in the context of the struggle generally waged by the workers for land, for irrigation, housing, roads, water …and all other services, that the struggle to take the school in charge is occurring. Therefore, given the absence, corruption and general abandon of the state, given the landowners’ and local reactionaries’ domination and exploitation, the workers are taking their responsibilities in hand.

Chatelain Community School , 4th Section, Commune of Verrettes

Department of the Artibonite, Haiti

                        School Management Committee Semester Report

For the 2nd Chatelain Community Assembly, in the locality of Charrier

Wednesday February 21st, 2007

Topic: Let’s Learn How to Work Together to Rise Together Out of Poverty and Misery

In the name of the Management Committee, I salute all members of the Community Assembly, all the guests, especially members of Batay Ouvriye , the parents of the children attending the school, and also the teaching staff.

We gather here because we want to carry forward the democratic experience we have started in the community. Today, democracy is taking place according to the report that the Management Committee is presenting to you as owners of the Community School . Before presenting the report, we want to emphasize 2 aspects. One is that when the assembly was giving this responsibility, it was not clear concerning the orientation and the means to accomplish this task. But also, as far as we are concerned, it appears that former members of the management team of the school did not think of leaving documents and archives in order to continue with the functioning of the school. We didn’t find anything that could help us. In the report we are about to present, it is thanks to our collective effort that we can present this to you. We are asking you to take this into account when you have to intervene regarding the report. Also, the report we are about to present, we just finished reading it and we think the data and information it contains are rather scattered and even lacking in precision regarding certain things that we have done, but we want to make clear for you: what did we find? What have we done? The choices and decisions we took, how did were they ascertained and carried out?

What did we find?

We found a yard full of weeds, a 6-room building covered with a roof, without doors, one room of the building is almost destroyed (danger), another room is not covered with a ceiling, a hole by way of toilet full of garbage, we found 26 benches, 4 blackboards, 4 chairs, only one is good, a small table, 140 books mixed up from first grade to sixth grade, a big notebook for filing, 3 wooden doors on the floor, some of them are already broken, 4 sheet metal, 3 wooden boards, 3 rulers, 3 set squares, 3 protractors.

What have we managed to do?

We finished up cleaning a big portion of the yard, we have constructed 2 bathrooms, we have repaired 3 chairs, we put doors in 4 rooms, we hired 3 teachers and one monitor to work in the school, we provided equipment for the teachers, we opened the school on October 30th, 2006. We paid the teachers 3 months of work, we planned many scheduled meetings with workshop for different people and subjects, we managed to organized a book-keeping system inside the committee.

What important choices and decisions have we taken for the school to run properly?

We decided that the school should be a lay school that is not involved with any religious practice, we chose to educate the children in the Haitian language while they are also learning French. We decided that this year all the children can come to school with regular clothes, we decided to use photocopies so the parents won’t have to buy books, we decided to have a workshop with the teachers every weekend in the context of the training they need to receive, this task has been done thanks to Batay Ouvriye . We decided that the school should run on the basis of two six-month sessions, where there will be evaluation for the students every 2 months, we decided that all parents should contribute symbolic dues for their children.

How and in what manner was this carried out?

Everything we’ve mentioned occurred thanks to the mobilization of the Committes, Batay Ouvriye , various parents and students, various extended household communities like Kay Isa, Naziyis, Odira. We, the Management Committee, are the ones responsible for the general orientation and carrying out. The mobilization did allow us to find financial aid and manpower. For the financial aid, it was the good will of people and organizations that made it possible. While we are making this report, we have found financial aid from the following people and/or organizations:

                INDIVIDUALS / GROUPS                                                  SUM (In Gourdes)

                Joseph Joichim                                                                                     100

                Pierristil Chalorain                                                                                100

                Joissaint Nolaire                                                                                   100

                Moïse Calixte                                                                                        200

                Fanfan                                                                                                    300

                Veuis Dorceus                                                                                      100

                Rigo                                                                                                        100

                New York Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network                  9.750

                Joslin Miyami                                                                                       8.600

                School fees                                                                                           1.750

                Gera Morancy                                                                                       6.200

So, the Committee mobilized 27,300 (twenty seven thousand three hundred) gourdes from October 2996 to February 3, 2007.

Here is how these funds were spent:

EXPENSE                                                                               COST (in gourdes)

Materials                                                                                8,025

Builders                                                                                 3,025

Personnel                                                                              9,500

Food                                                                                        2,918

Class equipment                                                                     982

Transportation                                                                            40

So, the Committee spent from October 2006 to February 3, 2007: 24,490 (twenty-four thousand and four hundred and ninety) gourdes. Consequently, in its treasury, on February 3, 2007, the Committee has a balance of 2,810 (two thousand eight hundred and ten) gourdes.

Concerning various individuals’ assistance in form of labor (as we mentioned earlier), these individuals are members of the Management Committee, of Batay Ouvriye , some are students, some are parents, some come from the household compounds of the community (Isa, Nasius, Odira). We want to take this occasion to thank all those who helped us reach this point, but the road is long, we hope none of us will give up in continuing to support this struggle, nor fall into a different conception of the way things should be done in the interest of the community. We’re also taking this opportunity to ask other individuals or groups who haven’t yet considered supporting this initiative that is good for their children to be able to live in a different environment:  don’t hesitate to inform yourselves, ask questions, bring your support for the advancement of the community school.

Just before we deliver some information and some priorities to the Assembly, we need to say that we encountered much difficulty in our work as a committee. There are people in the community who are against change and development. We faced threats, slander…! For instance, what do you think when someone says: “everything that has to do with school money, I’m the one in charge, otherwise, I’ll block everything, it’ll happen over my dead body!”. Or when another says: “the toilet doors shouldn’t have keys, they’re community toilets”. Or when Committee members get hexed, as well as their livestock and even children. When some people are playing with the minds of students’ parents, telling them fighting will occur in the school, their children might even be poisoned. When some people residing around the school use the school yard to defecate!

Here is some information on certain decisions we’ve taken:

·        Registration for the teachers who are decided to work remains open;

·        Registration for new students in the first to third grades will take place in May 2007;

·        All students will come with uniforms for the June 2007 session;

·        All parents will pay 25 gourdes to register new students and 300 gourdes for school fees for all students;

·        The third community general assembly for the school will take place on Wednesday August 22, at the school in Chatelain.

Here are some priorities we set for the school:

·        Rebuild the part of the building that is falling apart and also to cover the other room whose roof was destroyed by the hurricane;

·        Put 2 doors in the other 2 little rooms;

·        Build a large room to store the school material because, still now, they are dispersed;

·        Fence the school yard;

·        Set up an infirmary in the community school for the children;

·        Put up some material for the children to recreate in the school;

·        Organize for the children to have at least a plate of food every day at school;

·        Set up a training area and pay the teachers a reasonable salary;

·        Help the parents, set up a parents’ organization to support the school.