THE LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN HAITI: COMPETING VISIONS OF CLASS STRUCTURES AND POWER
Florida International University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The Republic of Haiti occupies the western third of the Caribbean island Hispaniola. It is neighbored by the Dominican Republic on the eastern two thirds of the territory. This division goes back to the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, which ended Spanish control over the entire island and partitioned the territory into a Saint-Domingue French colony and a Santo-Domingo Spanish colony. The French colony of Saint-Domingue gained Independence in 1804 after a twelve-year war of liberation waged by the colony’s African and Creole slaves. The founding fathers re-named the new country Haiti from the original Amerindian appellation ‘AYITI’ which means ‘land of mountains.’
Haiti has a population of 8 million, according to non-official sources. From that number, it is estimated that 2 million are living abroad in what it is called the Haitian Diaspora. North American and European cities such as: New York, Miami, Boston, Montreal, Paris and Geneva host very large Haitian communities.
The national language of Haiti is Creole also called Haitian Creole. This idiom is spoken by the ‘entire nation.’ The large majority of Haitians are monolingual Creolophone. French is Haiti’s second language. A small percentage of Haitians, one tenth, speaks French and can be considered, at various degrees bilingual. Since Haiti’s independence up to 1980, only French was used in formal affairs as well as in the system of education. Use of Creole as a formal language is not prohibited, however remains stigmatized. Knowledge of French is associated with prestige and power while Creole is only used for purpose of communication. In spite of recent interest to promote a positive attitude towards Creole, many factors play against its social acceptance in the system of education. This presentation focuses on the challenges that face the educational system in which the majority of children must learn in the French language which is not taught to them as a subject.
Keywords: Education, Language, Identity, nation, Power.