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A vision of an empowered Haiti: Happy Hearts Fund and IDB partner to support Education in Haiti

NEW YORK, NY – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Happy Hearts Fund (HHF) today entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) harmonizing efforts, in support of the Government of Haiti (GOH) to build back schools that were affected by the January 12, 2010 earthquake, thus making a long-term and sustainable commitment for the future of the people of Haiti. This commitment falls within the Haitian Education Plan 2010–2015, which aims to expand access to education for all Haitian children.

Under the MoU, HHF and IDB agree to support the implementation of the 2010–2015 Education Plan in Haiti, in particular, the objectives of access to free basic education and quality of learning that will need the construction and rehabilitation of school infrastructure, the reduction of the cost of education for poor households and opportunities to benefit from improved learning environments and methods.

"Those of us who work in international development know all too well that access to quality education is paramount for a country’s development and sustainable future,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “The Inter-American Development Bank is very proud to be working with the Happy Hearts Fund on the incredible possibilities to support the children of Haiti through the education projects we will develop and implement together, in coordination with the Government of Haiti and in line with the Government’s Education Strategy."

In particular, HHF and IDB agree to identify and co-finance schools in Haiti, specifically in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Jacmel. These areas were hit hardest by the catastrophic earthquake that posed many new challenges to a country already facing a difficult path toward development. HHF and IDB launched their partnership in September 2010, and have since undertaken a joint mission to Haiti with the objective of pre-evaluating schools in need of rehabilitation or complete reconstruction.

Petra Nemcova, Founder and Chairwoman of Happy Hearts Fund stated: "I have a deep respect for the power of education and have seen firsthand how children, their families and entire communities blossom around a new school. Happy Hearts Fund is proud to be partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank and support the Government of Haiti by bringing safe vibrant learning environments back to the children of Haiti. This partnership will provide many generations with the opportunity for a brighter future."

The MoU was signed today on the occasion of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting 2011, taking place in New York City. IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and HHF Founder and Chairwoman Petra Nemcova signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organizations and therewith officially solidified their partnership.

Haitian Education Reform

The Haitian education reform plan aims to expand access to education from preschool through college. At present, more than half a million children do not attend school, mostly because their parents cannot afford their studies. Only a minority of Haitian schools are public.

Under the reform, the Haitian state will assume a leading supervisory role in the education sector, including the oversight of private schools. At the same time, the Haitian government will invest aggressively in building larger public schools designed to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes.

The IDB expects to contribute $250 million over five years to support the plan. Additionally the IDB aims to raise, mobilize and leverage $250 million more from non-traditional donors, such as Happy Hearts Fund.

With resources from a $50 million IDB grant approved in November 2010, Haiti is currently rebuilding 30 public schools, putting up 25 semi-permanent schools, providing free education to 35,000 children in non-public schools and school kits and textbooks to 30,000 additional children, as well as strengthening the Ministry of Education’s capacity to implement its Plan. The scope of this IDB grant has also been increased by several co-financing efforts, including CAD$20 million from CIDA, US$10 million from the Haitian Reconstruction Fund and US$1 million from Trinidad and Tobago First Citizen Bank.

In addition, in the months following the earthquake, the IDB has financed the construction of 800 temporary classrooms in 57 school sites and the distribution of 100,000 backpacks with books and supplies for students. It has also provided financial support to 1,200 schools, enabling some 70,000 children to resume their lessons. Out of 30 schools, ten permanent schools are being rebuilt 30,000 schools kits have been delivered; 35,000 other children have benefitted from free tuition for the past and current school year; consultants have been contracted to support MENFP in the implementation of the Education Plan.

About the IDB

The IDB is Haiti’s largest multilateral donor. Last year it approved $251 million in new grants and disbursed $177 million in budget support and project funding for the Haitian government. In addition to supporting education reform, the IDB's activities in Haiti are concentrated in water and sanitation, agriculture, energy, transport and private sector development.

Since January 2010 the IDB has financed the construction of 800 temporary classrooms in 57 school sites and the distribution of 100,000 backpacks with books and supplies for students. It has also provided financial support to 1,200 schools, enabling some 70,000 children to resume their lessons.

About Happy Hearts Fund

Happy Hearts Fund is a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving children’s lives through educational and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas. Globally, HHF has an active portfolio of operations in nine countries, including Haiti, benefiting more than 34,330 children and 337,450 community members.

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