Despite the gunfire and gang violence, we managed to complete semester testing at the Barefoot School in Cité Soleil in February.  I received the report cards for 149 students this week.  Regardless of performance, THESE CHILDREN ARE IN SCHOOL and are trying.  That is MOST important:  THEY ARE IN SCHOOL, which is a major accomplishment when we consider that Cité Soleil, Haiti is the poorest, most violent community in the Western Hemisphere.  We support these children because we believe that EDUCATION plays a primary role in creating an environment for children and adults to make the world better for themselves and for the community they live in.

Before, I summarize, I offer this discussion on the grading system we posted five years ago when GBCCS sponsored 20 students.

It helps to understand the grading system to maintain perspective when viewing report cards, particularly from a foreign country.
I vaguely remember the report cards I received as a young student at Pomeroy Elementary School. “E” was for excellent; “G” for good; “F” for fair; and “U” for unsatisfactory. I do not recall ‘percentages.’ As my education proceeded, letter grades evolved to “A’s,” “B’s,” etc. “C” – equivalent to 70-80% – was passing. I remember the one “D” I received in high school physics. I thought the world had ended. After achieving parenthood, Mrs. tVM and I shepherded five children through school in the ’80s and ’90s and finished with college for our children in the ’00s. By that time in American education, 60%, “D” was considered a passing grade. I do not recall the timeline or the specifics of how ‘passing’ transitioned from “C” to “D.” As I received and analyzed report cards from Haiti, I asked the principal what a passing grade was. When he told me 50%, I thought he had made that number up, but as I researched education in Haiti, I learned that he is correct: 50% is the official passing grade in Haiti. I should not have doubted him. This revelation led me to explore grading systems around the world. I learned they are quite different from one country to another. In Nigeria for example, a student will pass if she achieves 40%; in Tanzania, 35%. In Poland, 50% is “satisfactory.” In Switzerland, a student will pass with 60%, but in Sweden, like in Haiti, a student with 50% will pass.

Click the arrow to expand and read.

While we hope that students will strive to learn as much as they can, when we cut to the core, the objective is to retain as much knowledge as we are able to, and to “pass.”  Most importantly, to apply what we learn to make our lives more productive, and to make our world a better place to be.

In February, 149 students took tests at the Barefoot School, and that is what we consider our enrollment.

  • First grade – 38
  • Second grade – 43
  • Third grade – 26
  • Fourth grade – 27
  • Fifth grade – 8
  • Sixth grade – 7
I am proud of our oldest student

Our youngest students are 6-years old; our oldest student is 22-years old, and he is in 5th grade.  The age range by class is

  • First grade – 6 to 14
  • Second grade – 7 to 15
  • Third grade – 10 to 15
  • Fourth grade – 9 to 17
  • Fifth grade – 12 to 22
  • Sixth grade – 12 to 18

Boys represent 57% of the students; girls 43%.

We teach five subjects:  French, Creole, Social Studies, Science, and Math.  Our students perform best in Social Studies with an average score of 56%.

  • Social Studies – 56%
  • Math – 53%
  • Science – 53%
  • Creole – 51%
  • French – 42%

Each student also receives a score in conduct, physical education, religion, art, computer science, and writing.

The sixth grade performs best on the tests with an overall average of 64%.  The sixth grade’s strongest subject is math.

  • Sixth grade – 64% overall; strongest in math, 70%
  • Second grade – 51% overall; strongest in social studies, 71%
  • First grade – 50% overall; strongest in science, 57%
  • Fourth grade – 50% overall; strongest in social studies, 59%
  • Fifth grade – 48% overall; strongest in math, 54%
  • Third grade – 44% overall; strongest in science, 50%

As we continue to study and analyze our test results, we will update our program to make it as effective as possible.

As I look back on my own education, it isn’t the facts I learned that have been of the most value.  Few of us who read this post can translate “Alea iacta est,” or know anything associated with it; fewer still care that I know what it means and why it is significant.  Knowing the facts about it is not important, but learning the phrase was an exercise in memorization, hard work, and in following directions.  It is the act of learning and acquiring knowledge, and the ability to apply it that makes education the only way an individual, a people, and a country can rise from poverty.  That is why we have the Barefoot School in Haiti.

From the children and the community of Cité Soleil, thank you to those who have made special gifts to enable our work in Haiti to continue.

Mitakuye Oyasin

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