Former governor-general Michaëlle Jean assumes her duties as UNESCO's Special Envoy for Haiti at a ceremony in Paris on Monday and says she is more determined than ever to make education her cause.
"I accept this important mission invested in me by UNESCO, with a deep belief that there can't be enduring human development in Haiti without concentrating efforts on sustaining an accessible public education system that offers quality instruction," she said in a news release issued to mark the occasion.
Ms. Jean, former journalist, was succeeded in October as Canada's governor-general by David Johnston. She has a four-year mandate to assist the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in her native Haiti.
UNESCO's mandate is to contribute to the building of peace and the eradication of poverty through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
The 300,000 victims of the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean island nation included thousands of teachers and students. Many schools were also destroyed.
For that reason, Ms Jean said a portion of the $11-billion pledged by the international community for Haitian reconstruction be invested in education.
"In a country where historically education is always synonym for emancipation and liberty, where the majority of the population is younger than 25-years-old, but where poverty and lack of governance has meant that more than a million children are not schooled and illiteracy is rampant," she said. "We need to ensure that education is made and remains a top priority."