Learning French the main goal of education in Haiti

Haiti is a country of 10 million, give or take. Of that number, more than 90% speak Creole. The constitution of 1987 mentioned Creole as the single most binding language among the Haitian people. Why then is it still marginalized, and why is French, spoken by only 10% of the population, still the dominant language in the professional Haitian world, to the detriment of the majority of the population? It is these issues that Jacques Pierre, a Creole Studies professor at Duke University, is asking in an open forum for his recent piece in the Miami Herald called 'Haiti's French/Creole Divide'.


Like most countries in the Caribbean, Haiti's people speak their own blend of languages that is often very distinct from country to country. The problem lies in the class and social divide created by the different strata, in which those who speak Creole are labeled as unintelligent, and those who speak French are considered superior by virtue of the skill.

The bias is deep-seated and seemingly sanctioned by those in authority. This was evidenced when, two years ago, the government chose not to construct a Creole academy, as had been sanctioned by the Constitution in 1987. In his article, Pierre draws parallels between this stratification and the situation present during days of slavery. Today, half of Haiti's population remains illiterate, though there have been 13 literacy programs launched since the 1940s.

Pierre mentions in his article how conveniently politicians use Creole during their campaigns to attract the masses, and highlights the sudden shift to French once they've been accepted, adding insult to injury.

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