Education in Haiti
Education levels in Haiti are low. Haiti’s literacy rate of about 53% (55% for males and 51% for females) is below the 90% average literacy rate for Latin American and Caribbean countries. The country faces shortages in educational supplies and qualified teachers, and its rural population remains underrepresented in many of the country’s school classrooms. The 2010 Haiti earthquake has exacerbated the already constraining factors on Haiti's educational system.
International private schools (run by Canada, France, or the United States) and church-run schools educate 90% of students. Haiti has 15,200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by communities, religious organizations or NGOs. The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, of which less than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. Higher education is provided by universities and other public and private institutions.
The educational sector is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry provides very little funds to support public education. As a result, the private sector has become a substitute for governmental public investment in education as opposed to an addition. The Ministry is limited in its ability improve the quality of education in Haiti.
Despite the deficiencies of the Haitian education sector, some Haitian leaders have attempted to make improving education a national goal. The country has attempted three major reform efforts, with a new one in progress as a response to the earthquake.
- 1 History
- 2 Twenty-first century
- 3 Educational system
- 4 Governance
- 5 Funding
- 6 Recent reform efforts
- 7 See also
- 8 References
The first Constitution, promulgated in 1805, stated that "... education shall be free. Primary education shall be compulsory... State education shall be free at every level." It guaranteed the right for everyone to teach –an “open-door policy” to private initiatives which meant that every person would have the right to form private establishments for the education and instruction of youth. The practice of providing accessible public education for all was established later when the Constitution was revised in 1807. Much later in 1987, the declaration that education shall be a right for every citizen was added to the Constitution.
These educational goals expressed in the Constitution have not been achieved. In the beginning, the government’s primary focus was on building schools to serve the children of the political elite. These schools were predominantly found in urban areas, and patterned after the French and British school models. At the end of the 19th century, there were 350 public schools in the country. It rose to approximately 730 by the eve of the American Occupation of Haiti in 1917.
The government attempted to expand access to public education in the 1940s. This was halted during the Duvalier era. Between 1960 and 1971, 158 new public schools were built. Private education represented 20% of school enrollment in 1959-60. After his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier took over in 1971, the public sector continued to stagnate, but the private sector accelerated partly due to a rule instituted by Baby Doc that religious missionaries were required to build an affiliated school with any new church. By 1979-80 57% of enrollment in primary education, and 80% in secondary education was private. During the Duvalier era a number of qualified teachers left the country to escape political repression. During the 1980s, the average annual growth rates in private and public enrollment were 11% and 5%, respectively. The expansion of private schools increased further after the end of the Duvalier regime in 1986, as many religious communities established their own educational institutions. The years 1994-1999 were a peak period for school construction and the private sector has been growing exponentially since.
Though the Constitution requires that a public education be offered free to all people, the Haitian government has been unable to fulfill this obligation. It spends about 10% of the federal budget on the country's elementary and secondary schools. Out of the 67% enrollment rate for elementary school, 70% continue on to the third grade. 21.5% of the population, age 5 and older, receive a secondary level education and 1.1% at the university level (1.4% for men compared to 0.7% for women). Nearly 33% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 (500,000 children) do not attend school, and this percentage climbs to 40% for children ages 5 to 15 which accounts for approximately one million children. The dropout rate is particularly high at 29% in the first basic cycle. Close to 60% of children drop out of school before receiving their primary education certificate. Of the two million children enrolled in the basic level, 56% are at the required age for the first cycle (ages 6 to 11). While the mandated age for entering grade 1 is 6, the actual mean age is nearly 10, and students in grade 6 are on average almost 16, which is 5 years older than expected. 83% of those ages 6–14 attended school in 2005. These rates are much lower for the poor.
With the exception of higher education, private schools in Haiti account for 80% of total enrollments and serve the majority of Haitian students. According to Wolff there are three main types of schools that make up the private sector. The first and largest type of private schools are for-profit private schools run by entrepreneurs. These schools have very few, if any, books and unqualified teachers and school directors. They are popularly known as “écoles borlettes,” which translates to “lottery schools,” because “only by chance do the children learn anything." The second type of private schools are those run by religious organizations such as Catholic and Evangelical churches, as well as some nonsectarian schools. Some of these schools offer a better quality of education than for-profit schools do, but they often have risky conditions and staff with no professional capabilities. The final type of private school composes of “community schools,” which are financed by whatever funds the local community can mobilize. They tend to be of very poor quality, worse than for-profit schools, but they do charge very low fees. A handful of private schools in Haiti, mostly clustered around the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and accessible to the rich (except for limited scholarship fund opportunities), offer education with relatively high quality standards. Furthermore, three-fourths of all private schools operate with no certification or license from the Ministry of Education. This literally means that anyone can open a school at any level of education, recruit students and hire teachers without having to meet any minimum standards.
The majority of schools in Haiti do not have adequate facilities and are under-equipped. According to the 2003 school survey, 5% of schools were housed in a church or an open-air shaded area. Some 58% do not have toilets and 23% have no running water. 36% of schools have libraries. The majority of workers, about 80% do not meet the existing criteria for the selection of training programs or are not accepted in these programs because of the lack of space in professional schools. 6 out of every 1,000 workers in the labor market have a diploma or certificate in a technical or professional field. In addition, 15% of teachers at the elementary level have basic teaching qualifications, including university degrees. Nearly 25% have not attended secondary school. More than half of the teachers lack adequate teacher training or have had no training at all. There is also a high attrition of teachers, as many teachers leave their profession for alternative better paying jobs. Sometimes they are not paid due to insufficient government funds.
Impact of 2010 earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake that struck on January 12, 2010 has exacerbated the already constraining factors on Haiti’s educational system. It is estimated that approximately 1.3 million children and youth under 18 were directly or indirectly affected. Nearly 4,200 schools were destroyed affecting nearly 50% of Haiti‘s total school and university population, and 90% of students in Port-au-Prince.< . Of this population, 700,000 were primary school-age children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. The earthquake caused death and injury to thousands of students and hundreds of professors and school administrators, however the actual number of casualties is unknown. Most schools, including those that were minimally or not structurally affected at all, were closed for many months following the earthquake. More than a year since the earthquake occurred, many schools still remain closed and, in many cases, tents and other semi-permanent structures have become temporary replacements for damaged or closed schools. By early 2011, more than one million people, approximately 380,000 of whom are children, remained in crowded internally displaced people camps.
The Haitian Ministry of Education estimates that the earthquake affected 4,992 (23%) of the nation‘s schools. Higher education institutions were hit especially hard, with 87% gravely damaged or completely demolished. In addition, the Ministry of Education building was completely destroyed. The cost of destruction and damage to establishments and equipment at all levels of the education system is estimated at 478.9 million USD. Another residual effect has been the number of children disabled by resulting injuries from the earthquake. These children are now experiencing permanent disabilities, and many schools lack the resources to properly attend to them.
Formal education in Haiti begins at preschool, which is followed by 9 years of Fundamental Education (first, second and third cycles). Secondary education comprises 4 years of schooling. Starting at the second cycle of Fundamental Education, students have the option of following vocational training programs. Higher education follows completion of secondary education, and can be a wide range of years depending on program of study. The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) uses data from Haiti’s 2002-2003 census administered by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MENFP), the 2011 Presidential Commission on Education and Training (GTEF), the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information Technology and the National Institute of Vocational Training (INFP) to provide background information on the educational system in Haiti which is described below.
Although not compulsory, preschool is formally recognized for children between the ages of 3 and 5. Around 705,000 children below 6 years of age, representing 23% of the age group, have access to preschool education. The majority of preschools are located in elementary schools, and most of these are private and concentrated in the West department. Tuition costs have increased significantly over the last decade for preschools, going from 1628 gourdes (roughly $41) in 2004, to 4675 gourdes (roughly $117) in 2007, a 187% increase in just 3 years.
Elementary education is compulsory for children between 6 and 11. It consists of 3 cycles of 3 years each, which altogether is called “fundamental education”. The 3rd cycle is completed either in elementary or in secondary school. Enrollment has seen a steady improvement in the last decade. According to IHSI, the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information Technology, school enrollment has gone from 40.1% in 1990 to 86.7% in 2002, representing 2.1 million children. Although tuition in public schools is legally free for the first two cycles of fundamental education, equivalent to elementary education, 81.5% of these children go to private schools and pay fees, often due to the limited availability of public schools. One hundred forty five districts have no public school and 92% of the 15,268 elementary schools in Haiti are private. Tuition costs have increased significantly over the last decade. Average tuition for 2nd cycle classes in elementary school has almost tripled since 2000, sometimes going up to 92,500 gourdes ($2313).
Less than 22% of children move on from elementary to secondary education. Of this 22%, 75% go to private schools. Of the approximately 2,190 secondary schools in Haiti, 90.5% of secondary schools are private and 78% of them are located in urban areas. Roughly half of all schools are located in the West Department. There is a large discrepancy between the West and other regions in Haiti. Tuition costs have increased significantly over the last decade. Average tuition went from 5,000 gourdes ($125) in 2004 to 7,800 gourdes ($195) in 2007, representing an increase of 56% in 3 years.
Higher education in Haiti consists of 4 regional public universities including the State University of Haiti (Universite d‟Etat d‟Haiti, UEH), 4 other public institutions each associated with their respective ministries, and the private sector. Public universities in Haiti are relatively free. They require an annual fee of 3,000 gourdes ($75). The State University of Haiti, located in Port-au-Prince, is the largest public university in Haiti and had 10,130 students enrolled in 2008, with 2,340 of them being first year students. Estimates on the number of students enrolled in higher education vary greatly from 100,000 to 180,000, leading to about 40% to 80% of students in the private sector. Many private universities and institutions have emerged in the last 30 years and in total there are around 200, 80% of which are in Port-au-Prince. 54 out of these 200 schools are officially approved by MENFP.
A list of some universities in Haiti includes:
- Université Caraïbe (CUC)
- Université d'État d'Haïti (UEH)
- Université Notre Dame d'Haïti (UNDH)
- Université Adventiste d'Haïti (Haitian Adventist University)
- Centre de Techniques et d’Economie Appliquée (CTPEA)
- Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Technologie (ENST)
- Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH)
- Institut Universitaire Quisqueya Amérique (INUQUA)
- Université Quisqueya (UniQ)
Vocational training in Haiti is given at different levels between the second half of secondary school ( 10 years of education) and the first half of university (13 years of education). Starting at the second cycle of fundamental education, students have the option of following vocational training instead of pursuing the formal education cycles. It is given through different formats and at different levels and it includes: technical education (EET) and professional education (EEP), housework skills (CM) and professional training (CFP). GTEF estimates the number of students to be in vocational training to be about 21,090.
- Professional education (EEP): Professional education in Haiti is given to children having completed elementary education. Most programs last for 3 to 4 years, and are aimed at teaching the basic skills of a given vocation. According to INFP, there are about 40 of them, of which almost half are private.
- Technical education (EET): Around 50 out of the 138 institutions recognized by the INFP offer technical education at the secondary level, of which 4 are public. The programs usually last 3 years.
- Family centers (“Centres Menagers”): Family centers offer 2 to 3 year programs in clothing, cooking and/or housework arts, to people who have not completed elementary education. There is no age restriction and most participants are female adults of all ages. There are about 140 such institutions in Haiti. Many of them are located in elementary schools or in temporary locations, and operate in very bad conditions with almost no equipment.
- Professional training (Centre de Formation Professionnelle, CFP): Professional training is meant for candidates having completed 10 or 11 years of education, or for workers wishing to acquire skills that are specific to a certain vocation of their choice. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs (MAST), there are over 200 private institutions, which cover 24 occupations and operate under their supervision. MAST delivers Professional Certificates to those who complete professional training. The West department consists of 80% of these institutions. The two public centers that existed are now not functional. The Centre Educatif de Carrefour has been closed since 2000 and the Centre Educatif de Bel Air was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.
Education in Haiti is governed by the Haitian Ministry of National Education and Professional Training (Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle, or MENFP). Even though most of the schools in Haiti are private, the MENFP is charged with regulating the entire educational system. The Ministry of Education has two main goals: (1) to provide educational services to its citizens and (2) to play a normative and regulatory role. However, the MNEFP has been ineffective in fulfilling these goals because it is overstretched and lacks enough support. For example, there is now approximately one inspector per six thousand students who is responsible for providing accreditation, pedagogical supervision, and administrative support.
The MENFP plays a significant role in the determination of curriculum content, regulations, validation of degrees and certificates, and inspections. Organizationally, the ministry does not adequately separate the functions of governance and policy making from the functions of management. There is no strong and independent policy making body. In an effort to decentralize the education sector, a limited amount of responsibility and authority has been given to departments of Haiti (Haiti’s ten geographic regions), school district offices, and inspection zones.
The Haitian government, mainly the Ministry of Education is not in a position to close deficient schools because it is not equipped to take on the additional responsibility, nor does it have the resources or capacity to do so. After a peak of 19% in 1987-88 and 22% in 1994-95, the percentage of Haiti’s national budget allocated to education declined from 17% to 10% between 2001 and 2010 with 20% of education-related expenditures reaching rural areas, which is where 70% of Haiti’s population is found. This figure is low compared with other countries that are comparable according to the Human Development Index (HDI), which puts Haiti in 145th place out of 169 countries. However, Haiti receives international aid which supplements, to a certain extent, the insufficient educational budget. In 2006 the country received $10.4 million to support basic education programs and $2.5 million to support higher education programs. According to USAID, ongoing US-supported education programs have lowered dropout rates and raised the performance of more than 75,000 Haitian youth.
The substantial growth of the private sector, despite the constitutional guarantee of free education, indicates that the reality is that providing free education for all is very expensive. The majority of private schools do not receive any government subsidizes. There is no government scholarship program to alleviate the burden on poor families. Help comes from the "Fonds de Parrainage", a private sector foundation which offers scholarships to needy children enrolled in eligible private schools. The annual number of beneficiaries is around 13,000, representing a mere 1.3% of the student population enrolled in private schools.
Financial support from the government is a salary subsidy covering approximately 500 teachers working full-time in private religious schools. This represents 2.5% of the private sector teaching force. The public schools have collected fees because government funding has been insufficient. It had become common practice for school principals to require a parental financial contribution from each student. Thus, for many parents, it did not make as much financial difference to put their children in public or private schools. When President Aristide returned from exile, he decided that public schools would no longer collect fees. This decision actually had a negative affect because it left public schools more destitute. It is clear that the growth of the private sector has become a substitution for public investment, as opposed to an addition.
Recent reform efforts
Despite the severe deficiencies of the Haitian education sector, many Haitian leaders have attempted to make improving education an important national goal. The country has attempted three major education reform efforts in recent years including the Bernard Reform of 1978, The National Plan on Education and Training (NPET) of 1997, and The Presidential Commission for Education in Haiti of 2008. More recently, following the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has partnered with the Inter-American Development Bankto propose a new 5-year educational plan.
Bernard Reform of 1978
The Bernard Reform of 1978 was an attempt to modernize and make the educational system more efficient. It was also an attempt at capacity building to satisfy the educational needs of the country despite its economic limitations. The Bernard Reform sought to introduce vocational training programs designed as alternatives to traditional education in order to align the school structure with labor market demands. The reform also restructured and expanded the secondary school system by separating it into academic and technical tracks. In addition, Haitian Creole began to be utilized in classrooms as the language of instruction in the first 4 grades of primary school during this time period. French and Creole are both official languages of Haiti. Most Haitians speak Creole. The most privileged Haitians speak French. The practice of using French rather than Creole in the classroom discriminates against the lower socioeconomic classes and the Bernard Reform was an attempt at addressing this issue.
Unfortunately the Bernard Reform made little gains in improving the quality of education in Haiti. It failed for two main reasons: lengthy delays in the implementation of new the curriculum and inadequate resources and infrastructure to support the proposed changes. An issue that became prevalent was that the majority of parents preferred to see their children attend universities because they saw the technical schools as low-prestige institutions. As a result, the labor market lacked sufficient jobs for new graduates of liberal arts programs, and consequently salaries lagged behind expectations.
The National Plan on Education and Training of 1997
The National Plan on Education and Training was a plan that introduced a shift away from the French educational model. The French educational model was one characterized by a highly centralized bureaucracy, which was teacher-centered and saw students as passive learners. The NPET of 1997 marked a shift to a model of participatory learning based on student-centered approaches. The NPET also shifted to a new paradigm of citizenship education aimed at developing civic knowledge and attitudes that would promote unity and an appreciation of the diversity in Haitian society, providing the foundation for an inclusive national identity.
One of the principle goals of this plan was to uphold the Constitution and ensure that primary education would be made compulsory and free, neither of which have been realized to date. The national education budget increased from 9% of the national budget in 1997 to 22% in 2000. This paid for programs to provide school lunches, uniforms, and bus transportation. Additionally, in 2002 the government began a literacy campaign, facilitated by 30,000 literacy monitors and the distribution of 700,000 literacy manuals. Overall, school attendance rose from 20% in 1994 to 64% in 2000.
The NPET, however, was limited in its achievements. The goal of making primary education free and compulsory has not been met. Primary education remains beyond the reach of most Haitians, because they are highly privatized and very expensive. In addition, there has been minimal decentralization of the educational sector because there are fears that the decentralization process will lead to fragmentation rather than resolve the problems of social polarization. Furthermore, the NPET has not been successful in creating a space for communities to express their opinions through parent-teacher associations or other mechanisms.
The Presidential Commission for Education in Haiti of 2008
The Presidential Commission for Education reported their recommendations to outgoing President Rene Préval and the Ministry of Education on recommendations for a new national curriculum. The primary goals of the commission were to provide 100% enrollment of all school-age children, a free education to all, including textbooks and materials, and a hot meal daily for each child. Lumarque stated that accelerated teacher training was essential for the attainment of these goals. In order to adequately reflect the needs of the people the commission traveled throughout the country asking parents and community leaders what they desired most for their children. When the national curriculum plan is finalized, all public schools and those private schools that choose to participate will be expected to begin utilizing standardized teaching materials in addition to standardized test methods.
The Operational Plan of 2010-2015
After Haiti's 2010 earthquake, the President of Haiti, René Préval in May 2010 gave the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB the mandate to work with the Education Ministry and the National Commission in preparing a major reform of the education system in a 5-year plan. This 5 year, 4.2 billion USD plan calling for private schools to become publicly funded which would increase the access of education for all children. The plan hopes to have all children enrolled in free education up to 6th grade by 2015, and 9th grade by 2020. The IDB has committed 250 million USD of its own grant resources and has pledged to raise an additional 250million USD from third-party donors.
The first phase of the plan is to subsidize existing private schools. According to the plan, the government would pay the salaries of teachers and administrators participating in the new system. In order to participate in this new system, schools will undergo a certification process to verify the number of students and staff at their school, after which they will receive funding to upgrade facilities and purchase educational materials. This would become the first step towards establishing a tracking mechanism in Haiti. In order to remain certified, schools would have to comply with certain standards, including the adoption of a national curriculum, teacher training and facility improvement programs. The plan will also finance the building of new schools and the use of school spaces to provide services such as nutrition and health care.
Currently, most private schools serve approximately 100 students; yet they have the capacity for up to 400. The intention of the plan is to eliminate waste and become more efficient in the schooling system. The goal is to eliminate low quality, inefficient schools and consolidate many others over time, and improve the overall quality of education in Haitian schools.
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