Haitian kids clash with police over unsafe school

/ Source: The Associated Press

Several dozen students clashed with U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police as children began returning to school across Haiti's quake-addled capital on Monday.

At least 30 protesters gathered at the education ministry to demand that authorities either repair a quake-damaged school building or provide students with an alternative building. Some blocked city streets and threw rocks at cars. Authorities fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The U.S. Embassy warned American citizens to avoid the neighborhood where the demonstration took place.

Elsewhere, parents struggled to scrape together funds for what is supposed to be the first full school year since the Jan. 12 quake. The disaster destroyed more than 80 percent of the dilapidated, mostly private school infrastructure in the capital.

School was almost universally canceled after the quake, opening only briefly months later to finish out part of the year.

But even before that the system was a failure. Only half of Haiti's children were enrolled at any given time, attending mostly fly-by-night, for-profit storefront schools in unsafe buildings. More than a year before the quake a hillside school collapsed on its own in a Petionville slum, killing 100 students and adults.

Meanwhile just one in 10 Haitian teachers was a qualified educator — a third haven't even completed ninth grade, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

"(My kids) don't go to school because I don't have any money to send them, or even pay for a taxi to get there," said Alicia Louis, a mother of five living in a Petionville homeless camp.

The IADB has pledged to raise $500 million to rebuild and improve the system.