Literacy education


Prophet, age 14, shows off the “vowels” ball used in GOALS literacy class. This is the first time Prophet has ever been to school.


GOALS has always believed in the power of soccer to change lives and to inspire young people to achieve more. Now, our literacy program is pushing the love of the game further than ever.

In some of the villages in Haiti where GOALS works, there are no schools, no paved roads and no electricity or running water. Nearly all adults are low-literate and just 72% of children attend school. GOALS’ ‘Leveling the Playing Field’ literacy project uses the power of sport to build locally-led literacy programming in order to create fully literate communities, improving local leadership, health and future earning potential. We are extremely proud that our literacy program was the recipient of the Beyond Sport for education award.

  For children who cannot attend school and adults who never had the opportunity, the GOALS literacy program provides their first chance to learn to read and write, establishing a more equitable playing field for everyone.


What is the GOALS literacy program? How does it incorporate sport?

GOALS uses football in Haiti to engage youth in sport, health, and education projects. By using football as a platform for development, GOALS reaches children left behind by conventional educational systems. GOALS empowers soccer coaches and players with leadership and subject-specific trainings to develop local capacity. It is this network of local coaches who implement the GOALS literacy program, using a hands-on curriculum which incorporates non-traditional methodologies, including music, art, traditional Haitian games, and of course, soccer! For children who have never attended school or learned to hold a pencil, incorporating play increases retention, and joining their peers for GOALS ongoing soccer activities helps socially integrate learners thereby reducing social stigma.

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What is the goal of the program? Who are the participants?

The GOALS literacy project teaches basic reading, writing and numeracy skills to low- and non-literate youth (ages 8 and up) and/or adults who are financially and geographically cut off from traditional schooling. In response to community feedback and an assessed need, GOALS integrated a locally-led literacy program into our ongoing sport-for-development activities in two rural villages in Leogane, Haiti. Amongst participating children (ages 8 -19), only 25% were able to write their own names at the beginning of the course. Two-thirds had never attended school past first grade. Amongst adults (ages 19-66), none had formal employment and only three had ever attended school.

How is the program monitored?

Traditional testing is critical to measuring progress. Our literacy assessment tool, professionally developed, assigns both a numerical point score and a classification of non-, pre-, semi- or fully literate. GOALS also collects demographic data (such as family income and educational history) and individual interviews and focus groups with students, coaches and parents provide supplemental qualitative feedback, and to ensure the program fulfills a locally identified need and sustains community support.
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Bettina, age 19, volunteers at literacy class, reading with younger children.

What is the program’s impact?

To date, 64 children and 20 adults have completed the program with remarked success. The average pre-test score was 6 out of 24 possible points for children and 2 out of 24 for adults. In final testing, both groups tested high enough to be placed in the semi-literate category as a group. 95% of participants gained the ability to perform basic single digit addition and subtraction. In general, illiterate students who successfully complete the course will become semi-literate, and students who begin as low- or semi-literate students will become fully literate. Beyond improved reading and writing test scores, the ways increased literacy and numeracy permeates daily life can be unpredictable and the program has brought several unexpected impacts such as increased local commerce and new microenterprises founded by newly numerate adults. Increasing the number of literate children and families will continue to have a significant long-term impact for these communities, empowering children and adults alike to reach their full potential and engage more fully in public life. contender Egzan

Egzan, age 16, shows off the “balon” he and his classmates practiced writing on. Egzan was able to enroll in 1st grade after completing the GOALS program, attending school for the first time ever.

GOALS pushes the sport-for-development model further than ever before, using soccer to reach children and adults cut off from traditional education with a locally-led literacy program. Students take pride in walking to class with their books in hand and families and neighbors pitch in when needed, demonstrating the program’s community engagement and support. With a total of 84 graduated learners to date, GOALS’ literacy program brings new hope to both the students and their communities.

The ability to read and write is the foundation of all other development objectives – including GOALS’ broader objectives of improving health, reducing poverty, and for long-term community and local leadership development. GOALS therefore remains committed to continuing to provide educational opportunities to those who have been left behind in rural Haiti. For these boys and girls, becoming literate will simply be the first step toward achieving their full potential.

Learn more about the GOALS literacy program:

  • Check out a video of our program in action
  • Photos: Youth leadership and literacy games
  • GOALS youth tutoring adults at literacy class
  • More photos: Literacy at GOALS 2016
  • Literacy at GOALS 2015
  • In memory of Ansito Laguerre
  • More photos of GOALS’ sport, health, and education programs in Haiti

    Guerlancie is eleven years old.

    Meet Guerlancie

    Guerlancie, for example, is only 11 years old, but has already fallen well behind her peers. After both her parents died, she went to live with her elderly grandmother who can’t afford school fees. Guerlancie can write her name and form a few letters, but she can’t quite form them into words. Even though she can’t yet write, Guerlancie is remarkably well spoken. When asked about her literacy skills, she replied: I want to be able to communicate with people. You should be able to read and write so that you can speak up at meetings and be a part of society. It’s good for the village if people can read and write. It will be good for the future of my village. Our goal is to give Guerlancie and every single child in her community another chance. Through literacy, GOALS levels the playing field, giving these boys and girls their first opportunities to improve their own lives and, like Guerlancie says, “to be a part of society.”


    Help kids in Haiti learn to read and write with GOALS!

    A suggested donation of $45 will provide one week of meals for our literacy learners, while $110 will sponsor a student for the entire program, including books, materials and teacher support.
    Thank you for your support!
    Be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more updates and photos from our literacy, education, leadership and sport-for-development programs on the soccer fields of Leogane, Haiti.
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