I am currently following the reconstruction of my Alma-Mater “Institution du Sacré-Coeur” in Port-au-Prince and I am glad that the school’s directors have considered providing safe structural solutions to its student population, by hiring Kay-Tek a local Engineering and Construction Company. However while designers our days are re-thinking the way in which education is provided, I ask myself why are we not taking into consideration this perfect opportunity of reconstruction in Haiti to push the envelope and jump on the “education by design” conversation which could be so well mastered in a country with warm climate. The proposals by Kay-Tek might be structurally sound with their seismic-proof steel structures; however they could use this time to provide the best spatial environment for students to strive, especially since Sacré-Coeur does already have the great reputation of providing the best education to girls in Haiti.
During my upbringing in Haiti, I also had the opportunity to attend l’École Flamboyant in Deschapelles (Artibonite) a school dedicated to the children of the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer employees (who came from various parts of the world). Going to school at École Flamboyant felt like going to a summer camp. It was constituted by three very well ventilated simple brick structures. When I attended the school, there were maybe 10 of us of various grades sharing the same classroom, which was an open-plan with a library section, a computer section, meeting section and one where we had our desks to work on individual projects. The wide windows opened to a generous yard where we had our “reading sessions” and recess times. Going to school at l’École Flamboyant truly felt like paradise sometimes.
The unique aspect of this school was that it also fostered an exchange of different cultures at a very young age. In one class we had a Haitian, Canadian, American and German school system.
I fantasize about the best learning environments for people in Haiti because my experience at l’Ecole Flamboyant was truly exceptional, not only for the school system, but also for the flexibility of space we enjoyed. I truly value the Haitian education system but going back to the strict buildings in PauP made me feel like going to a concrete prison.
I felt inspired to write this post after watching this clip on EuroNews on new learning spaces around the world:
Whithin this video, the school in Burkina Faso by Francis D. Kéré (which I first learned about at the MoMA show “Small scale, Big Change”) reminds me of l’Ecole Flamboyant (for the ventilation aspect/ we rarely felt hot!). Here is a link to Francis Kéré’s project exhibited at MoMA in 2010:http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/smallscalebigchan…