DID joins with CRC Sogema to improve financing and the quality of basic education in Haiti

    LEVIS, QC, Sept. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Développement international Desjardins
(DID) and CRC Sogema have just been awarded a major contract by the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA) designed to increase school attendance
and the quality of education received by school age children in Haiti. The two
organizations will head up a six-year project with two separate components
requiring their complementary expertise in microfinance and education.

    Facilitate access to education

    In Haiti, parents often have to put off sending their children to school
because they lack the financial means. This phenomenon has led to most Haitian
classrooms having a large number of overage students while many other children
are simply denied access to education.
    With this in mind, DID will work with the network of Haitian community
finance institutions that it has supported since 1995 to make educational
loans available throughout the country. This innovative financing product was
designed and offered in recent years in the departments of Artibonite and
Sud-Est. The future deployment throughout the rest of the country, mainly in
rural areas, will involve 35 Haitian community finance institutions and 210
schools. By the end of the project, it is estimated that educational loans for
45,250 children will have been made, providing financing for 45,250 years of
schooling. The value of the loans should reach 274.2 million gourds, or
CAN $8.3 million.
    For its part, CRC Sogema will work to improve the quality of education,
another major cause of problems in access to education. Specifically, CRC
Sogema will provide support for improving school management, defining
pedagogical orientations and goals and indicators that facilitate better
quality control of the teaching dispensed by teachers. CRC Sogema will also
work with teachers providing training for managing classes, pedagogical
strategies for children with learning difficulties and course planning.
    Combining the individual expertise of DID and CRC Sogema will provide the
project partners with a range of professional interventions aimed at
strengthening the entire education sector and introducing the necessary means
for families to use education as leverage to take control of their local

    A project based on proven results

    DID carried out testing of educational loans in Artibonite from April
2004 to October 2007, thanks to financial support from the Fund Management
Centre (CGF) of Canada-Haiti Cooperation. This testing was designed to
identify conditions for success of the product in view of its innovative
nature, in particular the important synergy to develop between the education
sector and the financial sector.
    These three years of testing provided 1596 students, 824 of whom were
girls (52%), with access to education. Thirty schools took part in testing the
product with the participation of three community finance institutions. The
success of this first testing phase led the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) and the Haitian Ministry of National
Education and Professional Training (MENFP) to extend deployment of
educational loans into Marigot, in the Sud-Est Department.

    About DID

    Développement international Desjardins (DID) is a component of the
Desjardins Group and has been providing support for the creation, development
and strengthening of financial institutions for over 37 years. DID is
currently active in twenty countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean
and Europe. DID, which specializes in providing technical support and
investment for community finance, draws on the rich and diverse experience
acquired through collaboration with numerous partners, and on the over
100 years of experience of the Desjardins Group, the largest cooperative
financial group in Canada. DID works in partnership with the Canadian
International Development Agency, the Inter-American Development Bank, the
World Bank and many other multilateral organizations.

    About CRC Sogema

    Established in 1984, CRC Sogema offers specialized advisory and technical
assistance services for the management and execution of large-scale
international cooperation projects. It has become a leader in this field by
proposing a variety of services for economic governance and social
development, while adhering to values centred on respect for individuals and
the environment. CRC Sogema has historically played a major role in and
continues to foster international business development, in line with all
Millennium Development Goals. The firm transfers know-how and hands-on
expertise that develop operational capabilities in government and private
organizations. In partnership with the Canadian International Development
Agency, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and several other
multilateral donor agencies, CRC Sogema has carried out over 400 major
projects in developing and emerging countries.

For further information:

For further information: France Michaud, Communications, Développement
international Desjardins, (418) 835-2401, extension 6026, fmichaud@did.qc.ca,
www.did.qc.ca; Carole Asselin, Communications Director, CRC Sogema, (450)
651-2800, extension 229, asselinc@crcsogema.com, www.crcsogema.com

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