Finances in Haiti – by Peter Hesse

The interest from the Foundation’s modest starting capital of DM 200.000 (later increased by DM 10.000 from two donators) was of course never enough to finance anything sustainable. The founder added a total of half a million DM (roughly US $ 250.000) during those almost 25 years himself. Roughly one million DM (1/2 million US $) was donated by a total of a little over one hundred private donators during those years. The German state co-financed three small projects in 1988, 1989 and 1992. Since 1992, the city of Düsseldorf adds an average of $ 18.000 per year from their yearly street collections by children for children of the world. One very active group of ladies in a church community manages to collect a yearly amount of several thousand $ since the early years. All administrative expenses are being covered by the founder himself – and, lately, also by his family. The founder’s 44 field-trips to Haiti from one to several weeks each time serves mainly administrative needs. Only in the first 10 years he also visited every new project. Since 1989, Carol Guy-James Barratt is the Foundation’s official representative in Haiti – besides organizing and supervising the Montessori training, holding exams and selecting new students since 1986.

Since 1987/88 varying contributions come from those tuition-paying students in Haiti, who fill up the training courses. Those paying participants stabilized at around half of the yearly students. Those coming from former or new projects for deprived children, studying free of charge, however, always have priority. Paying students sometimes open commercial preschools. Those institutions do not figure in the preschool-listing and they receive no help from the Foundation. Their activities do, however, help to stabilize the Montessori-system in Haiti. But most important: They help making the training almost self-sustaining. The Foundation can thereby concentrate the limited resources on providing free didactical Montessori-starting material and varying other help for new project-preschools. The Foundation – being very small – does not have much money. But it is being spent in a very effective way. An auditing-company in Germany does yearly audits.

Since the founder’s 5-byepass heart-operation in 1996, he only travels to Haiti once a year. The system becomes more and more independent. Since a few years, Carol is also able to reduce her presence slowly to a few months per year. Since around 2002 it has, however, become increasingly difficult to safely travel in Haiti. Therefore, a precise picture of the latest development of the project-schools is difficult to obtain. However, it is clearly visible that those preschools who managed to maintain the desired didactical quality are increasingly growing in size and demand more trained teachers. Even though the political situation in Haiti is still unstable, the Montessori-system has managed to establish itself firmly and initiates hope for Haiti’s future.

More detailed financial information is published in the German section of this homepage and can be obtained on request from the new German Foundation-office: Peter Hesse Stiftung, c/o Schmitz-Stiftungen, Volmerswerther Str. 86, D-40221 Düsseldorf, Fax: +49-(0)211-398-17-82, or by writing to

Evaluation of the Peter Hesse Foundation
Teacher Training Program in Haiti.
Executive Summary
 – by Christian Barratt

An evaluation was done of the Peter Hesse Foundation teacher training program in Haiti in the year 2000 to assess the effectiveness and sustainability of its approach. This evaluation visited a sampling of partner preschools and interviewed a number of teachers and others. Cost recovery and local capacity creation were key themes of the assessment.

Since its inception in 1986, the Peter Hesse Foundation (PHF) preschool program in Haiti has supported and encouraged a movement for improved early child education in Haiti, and particularly for the acceptance of the Montessori teaching method by families. The program has trained 372 competent preschool teachers and assistants as of December 2000, and helped establish schools throughout the country. The World Bank has highlighted the program as a model for sustainable education, and the Ministry of Education has solicited its technical assistance at various times to improve its teaching quality. Numbers of available teachers and children in partner preschools appear in the attached graphics.

The PHF has successfully established a permanent and self-sustaining network of preschools in Haiti and created local capacity to train competent teachers to international standards. Even if their school does not receive material assistance from the PHF, teachers value the technical guidance from the program. There is a felt need for strengthened professional networking and continuing education among these teachers. At the time of this report there are three training centers capable of training Montessori preschool teachers to international standards, all staffed and operated by Haitian trainers.

Children completing Montessori preschool appear to perform better in primary school than those who have gone through public or other preschool in Haiti. Children from poor families completing Montessori preschool also seem to perform well in primary school compared to children form wealthier Haitian families. This information is anecdotal from parents and teachers. The PHF will gather more concrete data on post-preschool performance of children in the future.

Some of the specialized Montessori didactical materials are not easily available in Haiti, creating problems with expansion and cost. The Foundation had previously operated a local workshop to produce these materials at minimal cost in Haiti, using Haitian craftsmen. This initiative appears to be reviving and will greatly assist the program’s ability to establish more Haitian partner schools and expand at lower cost. The PHF program has been effective in producing a number of guides and materials for preschool classroom use and teacher training, as well as assisting teachers develop their own printed teaching materials.

The program has created local capacity without heavy dependency on external funding. Most partner schools are teacher-owned and operated, and are self-supporting They are generally able to recuperate the $22 average cost per child per year these schools spend to operate. Establishing a new school costs an average of $178 per child for the first year, including all start-up and operating costs for 12 months, and is often loaned or donated by the Foundation, generally with significant counterpart support from the community. The PHF program has established a scholarship system in which these schools accept a number of non-paying children of the “poorest of the poor” as a means of repaying the cost of PHF material assistance over time. The teacher training centers are financially independent, and will, therefore, be producing competent Haitian teachers long after external PHF involvement is removed.

The Peter Hesse Foundation has followed a model focusing on quality of teaching and local capacity building for sustainability. This model is clearly replicable, as expansion has been driven by professionals trained in the program itself, rather than from outside. Teachers have shown that they are able to earn a living offering education that families and communities value. Larger education projects in Haiti touch larger populations, but also consume enormous amounts of money and do not always achieve the economies of scale sought after, and sustainable beyond donor financing is problematic. Virtually all PHF partner school teachers and directors are confident their schools will continue long after PHF support leaves Haiti.