When Mixone Tanis and his brother, Fritz Antoine, looked at the majority of young male teenagers, they were deeply upset by what they saw: youngsters abandoned by virtually all the systems that should have been looking after them – hopeless and left to their own meagre resources.
They decided to play their own small part in changing that situation, and so in August 2004 they opened Institut d’Enseignement Universel in a noble attempt to give the basics of education to those who needed it most in the north of the country.
The brothers already ran a banana business in the commune of Limonade and they decided to operate the two enterprises in parallel, so far highly successfully. In October 2005, the school had 600 students, its highest number ever. Still, raising enough revenue to pay the 60 staff can be a challenge – and bank loans have been necessary over the years to keep the doors open.
Even so, Mixone Tanis remains as optimistic as ever, and as committed to the value of education. His long-term aim is to open a university, “Universite de l’Enseignement Universel”– which will allow the best of the best of his students to pursue their learning to another level.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of the school”, says Tanis, “is the number of our former students we’ve had over the years coming back to teach here. That is the ultimate vote of confidence. It also shows that our message is being heard: education changes lives.”