A need for reform
Haitian schools, both public and private, suffer from a dearth of materials, expertise, management, and organization that has been exacerbated by natural disaster, disease, regional conflicts, political upheaval, and a lack of funds. Currently, less than 50 percent of eligible children attend primary school, and less than one-third of these children will reach the fifth grade. Some cannot afford to continue their schooling, and others are ill-prepared and therefore unable to pass necessary exams. In general, high dropout rates are not attributed to disinterest in education but rather to limited family resources.
Of the students that complete their primary education, only about two-thirds complete their secondary education, and even fewer are able to enroll at universities. Haiti has one government university and approximately 200 privately-owned institutions, of which less than 50 are accredited. Worse still, a staggering 85 percent of college-educated Haitians are estimated to live abroad. This phenomenon, experienced in Haiti more than any other Caribbean country, is referred to as ‘brain-drain’ since the population that remains is largely uneducated.
By mandating the use of French rather than Haitian Creole in the classroom, the current Haitian education system discriminates against students of lower socioeconomic status, the majority of whom are not fluent in French, the legal and administrative language of Haiti. As a result, many students never learn to read or write in either language and contribute to the adult illiteracy statistic, which is roughly 50 percent. Many also assert that Haitian education system is antiquated and that more funds need to be put forth for vocational education, which is arguably more practical for many adults and youth living in Haiti.
Historically, the Haitian government has played an unusually low role in the primary education of its youth: of the world’s poorest countries, Haiti is the only country in which more than 50 percent of primary school students are enrolled in non-state schools, the majority of which do not receive state subsidies. Current president, Michel Martelly, is increasing government involvement in this sector by providing many youth with free education. However, educators like Jean Moreno, the principal of the Andre Malraux primary school retort: “Sweet Micky is giving them free school? I am the one who is paying for this school.” Moreno accepted 200 new Haitian students in October, and has yet to be paid for their enrollment, despite government promises. Many external benefactors also fail to provide pledged funding, which perpetuates this problem at educational institutions throughout Haiti.
Join a Student Group near you Find a Project and Support It