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Haiti – Election and Education
Courtesy of www.unicef.org and www.bbc.co.uk
Elections in Haiti On Sunday, November 28, 2010, Haiti held general elections to choose a President, 99 deputies and 10 senators. In addition to some violent incidents, polling day was also marred by disorganization. Allegations were made that the election was rigged in favour of Jude Celestin, the government’s preferred successor of outgoing President Rene Preval. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council has denied the fraud allegations, despite street protests.12 out of 18 opposition candidates who called for the vote to be cancelled. The Organization of American States and the Caribbean regional grouping, Caricom, have said that disruptions caused at some polling stations were not enough reason to discount the votes. There is a concern that Haiti’s disputed elections may have partly been the result of an unstable education system, because many voters did not know how to read the candidates’ names.
Education in Haiti Even before the earthquake, Haiti was not only the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but also one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. It faced many political, economic and social problems. Haiti’s education system faces many challenges, including lack of infrastructure and a privatized school structure that demands high fees. Only 50 per cent of Haiti’s children are enrolled in primary school. Additionally, only two per cent of these children finish secondary school. As a result, the current national literacy rate is only 53 per cent.
Key Terms literacy – the condition or quality of being literate, especially the ability to read and write polls – the number of votes cast or recorded polling station – the place where votes are cast and recorded political platform – a declaration of principles and policies adopted by a political party or candidate
Global Voices Elementary Educator Resources
Note to Educators:
The following activities are designed to stimulate a current events discussion. Generative in nature, these questions can be a launching point for additional assignments or research projects. Teachers are encouraged to adapt these activities to meet the contextual needs of their classroom. In some cases, reading the article with students may be appropriate, coupled with reviewing the information sheet to further explore the concepts and contexts being discussed. From here, teachers can select from the questions provided below. Activities are structured to introduce students to the issues, then allow them to explore and apply their learnings. Extension and conclusion activities are included to challenge students and finally, encourage them to reflect on the issues at hand. Since these activities are designed as discussions rather than formal lessons, assessment strategies are not included.
Themes and Course Connections
Haiti, leadership, election, education, and poverty. Curriculum Connections: Social Studies, Science and Technology, Language, the Arts.
Chart paper Blackboard Writing utensils Paper Global Voices column
Specific Expectations and Learning Goals
Students will: Develop and express responses to issues and problems. Reassess their responses to issues on the basis of new information. Participate in active group work and class discussions. Communicate effectively in written and spoken language or other forms of expression. Demonstrate the ability to think critically. Develop, express, and defend a position on an issue and explain how to put the ideas into action.
Knowledge and Understanding
1. If I Was Prime Minister (estimated time: 10 minutes) a. Invite students to complete the following sentence:: If I was Prime Minister … b. With the entire class, brainstorm qualities that they would look for in a Prime Minister. List all ideas on the chalkboard. c. Go down the list and ask the following questions: i. What seemed to be some of the important qualities acknowledged during the discussion? ii. Is there one quality that stands out as more important? Why? iii. What was the least important quality? Why? 1 of 4
iv. Aside from personal qualities, what else do you look for in the leader of your country? d. Revisit the students’ responses to the question at the beginning of the activity. Ask students to reflect on their answer and identify which qualities they have as Prime Minister based on their answer. e. Explain that recently an election took place in Haiti. Ask students the following questions about the election: i. What qualities should the new leader of Haiti possess? ii. What areas of need should the leader focus on once he/she is in power?
1. Guided Reading: Global Voices column (estimated time: 20 minutes) a. Have students sit in a circle and distribute one copy of the Global Voices column to each student. b. Pre-reading steps: i. Make predictions: ask students to read the title of the column and view the pictures. After doing so, ask them to make predictions as to what the column is going to be about. ii. Introduce vocabulary: election, refugee camp, vote, aid organization, self-sufficiency, candidate, pledges, universal education, social services, private sector, potential, government, fraud, disenfranchisement, fluent, campaigning, literacy rate, illiteracy, civil right, dilapidated, democracy, accountability, and empowerment. iii. Assess prior knowledge: ask students to discuss what they already know about these topics. c. Reading steps: i. Go around the circle and have each student read a section of the column to the class, giving each student a turn to read. ii. As students are reading, offer guidance and coaching by providing prompts, asking questions, and encouraging attempts at reading strategy application. d. Post reading steps: i. Encourage students to provide a summary of the column in order to ensure they have understood the series of events. ii. Ask questions about the text to judge comprehension. 2. Media Literacy (estimated time: 15 minutes) a. Divide the class into small groups and distribute chart paper to each group. b. On the chart paper, ask each group to write the heading of the column in the center of the page. c. Creating a word web, ask each group to write all the words that come to mind after reading the column, around the center title. d. When students have completed their word webs ask them to answer the following questions in their groups: i. What is the message of this column? ii. Who created this message? iii. What creative techniques are used to attract the reader’s attention? iv. How might other people understand this message differently than me? v. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in this column? Which ones are left out? vi. What statistics or facts are listed in the column? vii. Why has this message been created? viii. Do you agree with this message? ix. What do you know? What are you unsure of? What would you like to know?
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e. As a class, discuss the students’ word webs as well as their answers to the above questions Discuss why it is important to understand the source and potential bias of a website or print resource offering news information.
1. How Dreams Become Reality (estimated time: 20 minutes) a. Ask students to let their imaginations run wild and fill up a blank piece of paper with everything they want to be, do, have, or achieve in their life. b. After the students have completed their lists, ask them to reflect on each of their dreams and answer the following questions: i. Why is this my dream? ii. How do I achieve this dream? c. Promote a class discussion around the students’ dreams. d. Following the discussion, ask students if their dreams would be possible without an education. e. Moving on, ask students to list the things that allow them to access education. When this discussion is complete, ask them to compare this to children in Haiti: what difficulties are they facing? f. Ask students to respond in the form of a written reflection to the following quote from the column: “[Iman] saw more potential in her son than in the government – if only she could still afford his schooling.” g. .
1. Cookie Monster Election (estimated time: 45 minutes) a. Explain to the class that they need a new classroom helper who will act as an assistant to the teacher, helping them understand their work, or solving problems that arise in the classroom. b. Announce that Cookie Monster and the Countess are in the running for this position and that we can only select one of them. The Cookie Monster’s promise is: “a cookie for every student!” He intends to deal with problems and difficult work by handing out cookies to those in need of help. The Countess promises: “You can count on me!” and that she will help students think about how to solve problems and teach them how to find the right answers. c. Discuss with the class which candidate would be most helpful in specific situations using the following suggested questions: i. In what situations would the Cookie Monster’s leadership tactics benefit the class the most? ii. In what situations would the Countess’ leadership tactics benefit the class the most? iii. In the short term, who provides the best solution? iv. In the long run, who provides the best solution? d. Place a ballot box at the front of the room. On a blank piece of paper ask students to write the names of both of the candidates, placing a check mark beside the candidate they would like to vote for. e. When the voting polls have been closed, ask two student volunteers to count the votes, revealing each candidate’s total and the winner to the class. Discuss the results as a class using the following suggested questions: i. Is anyone disappointed by the results? ii. Is anyone excited about the results? iii. How is the class going to benefit from the results of this election? iv. How are the dynamics of the class going to change now that the winning candidate has been elected into this position? f. Hold a discussion about elections and voting:
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i. What are the differences between short-term pleasures (the Cookie Monster), versus long-term results and change (the Countess)? ii. Why is it important to vote? iii. Why is it important to learn about the campaigns of the different candidates before voting? iv. How do the results of an election affect you? g. Relate this activity back to the election in Haiti and discuss why the election was important to the people of Haiti.
In addition to the above lesson plans, you may want to share some additional resources with your students. Listed below are some links to useful online resources: Haiti Election - http://www.haitielections2010.com/ CBC News - http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/11/28/haiti-election-candidates457.html CIA The World Factbook - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook/geos/ha.html UNICEF - http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/haiti_statistics.html
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