About the Project
The Matènwa Community Learning Center (MCLC), founded in 1996, is a community-based initiative working for transformational change and sustainable development. MCLC exists in a remote area of Haiti high in the mountains, in an agricultural village called Matènwa, on the island of La Gonave. The heart of its program is a pre-k through 9th grade school. Unlike most Haitian schools, MCLC uses Creole as the language of instruction, offers French as a second language, bans corporal punishment, and puts an emphasis on child-centered learning in an environment of mutual respect, investigation, and critical thinking. Organic gardening, local arts, Reflection Circles, and authoring their own Creole books are essential parts of MCLC’s curriculum.
The Mother Tongue Book Project validates the students’ life experiences in rural Haiti in a language they understand, fueling their eagerness to read. Educators from organizations and schools across Haiti come to witness what is happening and participate in discussions and trainings. MCLC is presently focused on spreading this model in its network of schools in 10 other La Gonave communities.
MCLC supports community driven development. It conducts annual Open Space meetings to hear the community’s desires and goals. Then it searches for educational opportunities and human resources to realize these goals. As a result, Matènwa now has all its primary age children in school, popular theater groups that promote children and women’s rights, reflection circles, , music groups, international teacher exchanges family planning, a breakfast program, art centers, a tree nursery, a library, a computer lab, Mother Tongue Books, a summer camp, teacher training outreach, and community-wide projects to increase water access, home vegetable gardens, and repairs after natural disasters. Through access to education that is responding to their self-determined needs Matènwa citizens continue to shape their own future.
Main partners: Friends of Matènwa, Teaching for Tomorrow, Rotary International, Beyond Borders, Limyè Lavi, The Fayerweather Street School, The Boston Foundation, Lynchburg College, and Pacific Rim Voices