Haiti’s school children missed class this year first due to months of violent unrest, then the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, as schools are finally reopening, many parents can no longer afford it, raising the prospect hard-won gains in education could be lost.

“The deadline to pay is next Monday. Without paying, I won’t be able to attend the class,” said Nickerla Etienne, 16, through streams of tears, after being sent home from her private school in the capital, Port-au-Prince, for failing to pay up.

While the pandemic has disrupted education worldwide, the situation is especially acute in Haiti, where just an estimated two-thirds of adults can read and write.

“We’ve never seen a crisis quite on this scale before,” said Beatrice Malebranche at United Nations children’s agency UNICEF in Haiti.

Virtual schooling has been impossible for most in the Caribbean country where more than half the population lives on less than $3 per day and has little internet and television access.

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