When the Obama Foundation opened applications for the inaugural Obama Foundation Fellowship, over 20,000 people from 191 countries applied. From that incredible pool, they’ve selected 20 inaugural Fellows who represent 11 countries around the world. Among those 20 civic innovators is our very own, young education leader. Nedgine Paul Deroly, an educator from Haiti who has begun a movement to build educational equity in her home country. Nedgine founded Anseye Pou Ayiti, an organization that has recruited and trained 110 teachers and recent school graduates to teach more than 5,000 students across 50 Haitian schools. Thanks to her efforts, pass rates in schools touched by her organization have tripled and 80 percent of the teachers trained in the program choose to remain in their communities after their teaching ends, continuing to invest their talents in building a stronger Haiti.
Nedgine’s work illustrates the power of solutions that are created by the communities who are most affected by a given challenge. Anseye Pou Ayiti’s model is inspired by Haitian history and values and informed by Haitians’ own visions for a better educational system. The result is a strong, sustainable, and empowering organization poised to show the world what’s possible.
What does she do?
Working with Haitian communities to create a network of civic leaders and build an equitable education system based on shared history, values, and vision.
Education was enshrined as a right in Haiti’s 1805 constitution. Yet while more than a third of the island’s citizens today are under 18 years old, too many are denied their human right to a quality education. Schools are a glaring vestige of Haiti’s colonial past, particularly in rural areas. Low investment has led to inequitable education outcomes, perpetuating the status quo and leaving generations unprepared to engage as citizens. The lack of investment and absence of culturally relevant, data-driven models to recruit and equip teachers are key reasons for today’s challenges. As a result, only 20% of primary school teachers are formally trained, fewer than 30% of their students finish primary school, and only 1% reach university.
Anseye Pou Ayiti (“Teach for Haiti” in Haitian Creole) equips teachers in rural primary schools to transform classrooms and communities, building a Haitian-led movement of civic leaders to spread educational equity. APA recruits an all-Haitian mix of existing teachers and new graduates as fellows (more than 75% originally from communities in which they ultimately teach); offers a summer immersion followed by two years of pedagogical and leadership training; and facilitates an alumni network to promote community-led reforms. Since 2015, 110 Haitian teacher-leaders have taught more than 5,000 students in 50 partner schools—tripling outcomes, including an 84% pass rate last year; encouraging collaborative community development projects; and equipping students, parents, and neighbors as civic leaders. Over 80% of alumni remain in school communities, including in school leadership and coaching roles. The classroom is the unit of execution, and the community is the unit of change. APA is rooted in appreciating the assets of culture, customs, and community, and redefining leadership as being rooted in collective action.
About the Obama Foundation Fellowship
The Obama Foundation Fellowship supports outstanding civic innovators – leaders who are working with their communities to create transformational change, addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. The program selects 20 community-minded rising stars from around the world for a two-year, non-residential program, designed to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation.
The Obama Foundation Fellows are a diverse set of leaders who bring a community-centered approach to science, criminal justice, healthcare, education, the arts, and more. Together they model the powerful truth that each of us has a role to play in civic life.
The two-year, non-residential Obama Fellowship offers hands-on training, resources, and leadership development to help Fellows scale the impact of their work. Fellows participate in four multi-day gatherings where they collaborate with each other, connect with potential partners, and collectively push their work forward. Throughout the program, each Fellow pursues a personalized plan to leverage the Fellowship experience to take their work to the next level.
Anseye Pou Ayiti envisions an education system in Haiti that affords all the country’s citizens their human right to a high-quality education by promoting teacher excellence and student success. We have a bold vision focused on reimagining the role of high-quality Haitian teacher leaders for the ultimate benefit of all students. Be sure to stay connected with Anseye Pou Ayiti on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Full applications available until January 7th.
Aneye Pou Ayiti will transform education indicators so enrolling in primary school without completion is no longer the norm for children in underserved schools. Within five years, Anseye Pou Ayiti will improve student outcomes so 100% of our students pass the national exams and pursue secondary education. Anseye Pou Ayiti is much more than a two-year fellowship. They are investing in top Haitian talent for the long haul, so Anseye Pou Ayiti alumni ambassadors remain in Haiti and fill a critical gap in local capacity. Their alumni ambassadors will be career teachers driving groundbreaking student success, school leaders, instructional coaches, policy makers, and members of Haitian philanthropy and business sectors who continually promote equal educational opportunity for all Haitian children.
Obama Fellow Nedgine Paul Deroly hosts the closing session exploring the power of place and how our roots matter, sharing how her identity as a proud daughter of Haiti shapes her work.