Schoolchildren and educators organized last week to respond to victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated much of Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince.
UNESCO announced in a statement that the university in Port-au-Prince and numerous primary and secondary schools in the city had been destroyed, and that many teachers and students had lost their lives.
“Education is at the core of Haiti’s recovery and is the key to Haiti’s development,” the statement from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, called on AFT members to donate money through the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund and the American Red Cross to respond to the crisis.
Communities with strong ties to the island nation were mobilizing.
At Randolph High School in Randolph, Mass.—where 135 students, or 18 percent, are of Haitian heritage—guidance counselors were reported to be offering support to anxious students. Palm Beach County, Fla., school officials put out a press release calling for members of the community to donate to international relief organizations and to take up collections of food and personal items, such as blankets and towels, that could be sent to Haiti, a local news report said.
The Miami-Dade County, Fla., school board voted unanimously to begin collecting donations for victims of the earthquake, according to Gemma Catire, an assistant to a district communications officer. She said nearly 19 percent of the district’s 300,000 students are of Haitian heritage.
The Miami-Dade board decided to open an old high school building as a collection center for supplies that could be sent to Haiti. Some district employees, including maintenance personnel and electricians, volunteered to travel to the country to help with the relief effort, a district press release said.
A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as Educators Move to Help Quake Victims