When THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan arrived at Louverture Cleary School in 1996, changes were in order. At the time, only 15% of the LCS student population was female. Reasons for this disparity are many and include a domestic culture that views sons as more likely to earn an income and thus more deserving of what few educational opportunities exist.
A strict affirmative action plan was immediately put into place, requiring at least 40% of each incoming class be female. Because potential students must pass an entrance exam for enrollment, this necessitated enrolling some females even if they tested lower than a number of males.
Within only a few years, it became far less necessary to adjust the acceptance process. Word got out about the success of LCS’s women graduates and biases in the community began to change. Soon, LCS had a large number of female applicants to pull from.
In 1996 only 15% of LCS’ students were female. Today, over 50% of LCS’ students are female.
"Right rules equal right results.”
Leveling the ratio is truly something to celebrate, but, as Deacon Moynihan points out, it is “very normal” that LCS won this particular battle:
If you put the right rules in place and defend those rules, you will get the right results. Beyond the pure justice of this issue, it is a great indicator that, in Haiti, if you introduce purposeful rules you will get very normal outcomes.
Today, there is no affirmative action plan—it is no longer necessary. Philo (US 12th grade +1) student Edwine Estinfil is just one of many who has benefited from the cultural shift that was ignited by the plan in 1996 and that now drives the large numbers of female applicants. She will graduate in a few short weeks from LCS, after which she plans to attend university and study medicine. Edwine, fittingly, finds motivation in her mother:
My mom only went to elementary school. I see how she has worked very hard to put me where I am. I want to seize the opportunities that my mom did not have and make her life easier after I go to university.
Edwine Estinfil, pictured far right with a few of her Philo classmates, reflects: “We are also human beings and deserve to be educated because we have the same dignity.”