The inherent inequalities within the Haitian education system can also be attributed to the language policy debate over which language, French or Haitian Creole, should be used as the language of instruction in Haitian schools. While Haitian Creole was derived from the French language spoken by the colonials, the differences between the two are vast, to the extent where they are not interchangeable. Differences in grammar structure and even vocab, including roots from languages from Africa, are what distinguishes Haitian Creole from French (Doug, 2015). Haitian Creole did not become recognized as an official language of Haiti until the 1987 Constitution, which also regarded Haitian Creole as the “sole language that unites all Haitians (Hebblethwaite 263). However, even still, as mentioned earlier, statistics reveal that 2-3% of the population, often wealthy elites, speak French, thus the existing intersectionality between language, education, and class reflects the importance of ones literacy to their place in society (Fontaine 33). However, when less than 5% of the total population actually speaks French, this “ lack of fluency in French is still normally associated with illiteracy, low socioeconomic level, and backwardness” (Fontaine 31). A linguistic division does not foster improvements in literacy rates or drop out rates in part because a student goes from speaking their mother tongue language of Haitian Creole at home to being expected to memorize French at school (Hebblethwaite 257). This inconsistency in languages, languages that are very different from each other, inhibits students from learning to their fullest and then consequently increases dropout rates(Fontaine 35). Hebblethwaite describes the severity of drop out rates “Haiti’s drop-out rates confirm the difficulty of second language acquisition” (272),which then contribute to both to the high illiteracy rates and high(46.2 %) unemployment rate. Lastly, insufficient and underfunded teacher training programs and unproductive teaching techniques pose even further barriers for student learning and educational success. For instance, many teachers came into their educator roles without complete Haitian Creole literacy and “in 2000, 53% of public sector teachers and 92% of private sector teachers were unqualified on the basis of not graduating from a teacher training institute and not holding a teaching diploma (Hadjadj 2000: 35). The teaching regulations in Haiti, especially for private schools, are extremely fluid and not enforced by the national education sector, illustrating the corruption within the formal sectors of society. Teaching instruction methods used within Haitian schools need to be adapted in order to improve the student learning and comprehension, with foreign language (French) in particular (Lindholm-Leary 2007: 12). Thus, the role of language and education are crucial to development within the Haitian education system.
Here is a Haitian woman who discusses the debate in Haiti over which language to use for teaching instruction: English, French, or Creole. She offers the perspective of a blogger and shares her insider perspective and gives some historical context.
Here is another video that discusses the increasing role of English in Haiti and what effect that could have on Haiti’s education system.