With a per capita income estimated at 270 dollars in 1994, Haiti is the 14th poorest countries in the world and has become the poorest nation in the Westem Hemisphere. It has limited natural resources, a relatively unproductive agriculture and an embryonic industry. After several decades of government neglect during the Duvalier era, economic and social conditions worsened as a result of the September 1991 coup and the ensuing international embargo (1992-94). Falling incomes and government inaction have led to an alarming situation in which nearly 70 percent of the rapidly growing population (2 percent per annum) lives in deplorable conditions while the richest 5 percent own half of the country’s wealth. At the same time, Haiti has a unique education system where, in sharp contrast to most countries in the world, the overwhelming majority of schooled children are enrolled in private schools (75% and 82% at the primary and secondary levels, respectively). This is the second highest proportion of private school enrollment in the world. This paradoxical situation reflects the historical fact that, in the absence of a well-developed and functioning system of public schools–only 63 percent of the 6-12 year children are schooled–, religious communities and private operators have filled the void and gradually become the main providers of education services in the country. This trend has accelerated in recent years. Under the defacto government and during the embargo years, the absence of public resources for education was partly compensated by the continuing growth of private schools. This situation raises the question of the fairness of a system in which, in most cases, the quality of the education children receive is directly related to where they live and to the level of tuition their families can afford to pay. Is private education playing an appropriate and desirable role in Haiti? Should the government expand public education to reduce existing imbalances? How can the govenment best use its limited financial resources to ensure that the poor have access to education? Is continued reliance on private schools a viable strategy, considering the weak institutional and financial capacity of the Ministry of Education to monitor the quality of schooling and to offer incentives for improvement? To answer these questions, the paper will start with an overview of the current education situation in Haiti and a presentation of the relevant historical background. It will then analyze the positive and negative features associated with the unusually strong presence of private education in the context of a poor country, and asses their implications for the public education system. Finally, it will consider different options for fostering a more balanced and harmonious development of private and public education
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EKO HAITI Research Hub is a research and knowledge mobilization platform focused on creative, collaborative and interdisciplinary research and associated research-based learning. We aim to become the intellectual “home” for research about Haiti by creating and providing open access to the largest crowdsourced research archive dedicated to Haiti, by fostering cross-disciplinary research and innovation, and by providing support for progressive research in the form of contextual expertise and training.
“The trees fall from time to time, but the voice of the forest never loses its power. Life begins.”
Jacques Alexis, Les Arbres Musiciens (Paris, 1957)
Oral histories are a powerful tool in developing historical understanding
Oral history offers an alternative to conventional history, filling gaps in traditional research with personal accounts of historically significant events or simply life in a specific place and time. Oral histories do more than provide charming details to dry historical accounts. In fact, oral histories help others recapture lived experiences that are not written down in traditional sources.
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" Bwa pi wo di li wè lwen, men grenn pwomennen di li wè pi lwen pase l "
The tallest tree says that it sees far, but the seed that travels says that it sees even further.
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