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MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

DeGraff cites vital role for Creole in rebuilding Haiti 

 
   

Language Barrier

by Michel DeGraff
Read full commentary in The Boston Globe

 

Excerpt from Boston Globe Op-Ed | June 16, 2010


Language is crucial for a better educational system in Haiti 

"Since the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January, international agencies have committed billions of dollars to build a better educational system and create a level playing field. But one crucial aspect of Haitian history must be considered—one that revolves around language.

Time to move past the "linguistic apartheid" in Haiti 
Creole is the only language spoken and understood by all Haitians, and the majority speak Creole only. Yet, the language of instruction in schools is French....The use of French as the language of instruction excludes around 90 percent of Haitians for whom French is an inaccessible foreign tongue...Nowadays, NGO cluster meetings, where the allocation of billions of dollars of international aid is under discussion, are conducted in French and English, excluding the majority of Haitians — those who need the most aid.

Creole can be the language of instruction
French should be taught as a foreign language for Haitians, with Creole as the language of instruction....

Haitians have a rare opportunity to build a new and vibrant school system for sustainable development. Without the design and enforcement of a well-structured array of Creole- and technology-based curricular reforms and teacher training, billions of dollars of international aid will go into the rebuilding of schools that will enlarge the cruel divide between the few haves and the millions of have-nots.

Read full commentary in The Boston Globe

 



More Information

About Michel DeGraff
Associate Professor of Linguistics


News Story: Rebuilding Haiti
Four MIT scholars with ties to Haiti discuss the country's future 

Resources for Rebuilding Haiti
Information on organizations, programs, and initiatives

Video
CIS Starr Forum: Rebuiliding Haiti


Photograph of two girls: United Nations