Current Issues

Structural violence
Anthropologist Paul Farmer states that an underlying problem, negatively affecting Haiti's education system, is structural violence. He says that Haiti illustrates how prevailing societal factors, such as racism, pollution, poor housing, poverty, and varying forms of social disparity, structural violence limits the children of Haiti, particularly those living in rural areas or coming from lower social classes, from enrolling into school and receiving proper education. Farmer has suggested that addressing unfavorable social phenomena, such as poverty and social inequality, the negative impacts of structural violence on education can be reduced and that improvements to the nation's educational standards and literacy rates can be attained.

Educational Disincentives
Education in Haiti is valued. Literacy is a mark of some prestige. Students wear their school uniforms with pride.:5 When Haitians are able to devote any income for schooling, it tends to take a higher proportion of their income. as opposed to most other countries. There is a disconnect between the high opinion of education and educational attainment.

Increasing a family's income would appear to solve the problem of insufficient family funds to pay for schooling. 7In reality, though, there are a confluence of systems and actors in Haiti's educational sphere that need to be taken into consideration.

Locale needs to be considered - depending on whether or not the community is urban or rural.

There are the different actors - students, families, schools, teachers,curriculum, the government, and NGOs. These are briefly some of the issues that affect the various actors:
Students may delay their entry to school. They may be obliged to repeat grades. Sometimes they drop out.
Teachers may be under-qualified.:15 They may be underpaid.:16
There may be insufficient schools in an area. They may lack adequate facilities. The expense of attendance may exceed a families resources. There are some families that spend 40% of their income on school expenses says Education Minister Nesmy Manigat.

Curriculum mismatches may occur. For example, the language of instruction is typically in French. The vast majority of students speak only Creole. French instruction is useful in producing students who will be able to attend a university in a French-speaking country such as France or Canada. There is limited educational opportunities for students who do not want to attend university, or who want to attend but cannot afford it.

The Government provides few public schools. They are vastly outnumbered by private schools. The government is unable to enforce its desired policies with respect to education. This inability has a myriad of ramifications. For example, the Haitian educational system has two exams that the government requires for a student to be promoted to the next grade. These exams are taken at the end of the 5th and 7th grades.:5 :22However, many schools require exams at the end of every school year. The successful result will allow a promotion to the next grade- this includes public as well as private schools.:11

The students are required to pay a fee to take the exams.:29 If the fee is not paid, the student does not pass to the next grade regardless of how well they did during the school year. In rural areas, family income is greatest at the beginning of the school year when the harvest is in. It is easier to have children start school than finish. For families whose children do not get promoted, school fees must still be paid for the grade that is being repeated. This doubles the cost per grade or even more if the exam fees are once more not paid at the end of the year.:5 This scenario is more likely for lower income families who can least afford the increased cost.

A solution to this issue of less family funds at the end of the school year that Lunde proposes is a change in the banking system. :27 She suggests that access to loans at the end of the year based on anticipated harvest of the next year may help in these instances. The is an example of digging deep through a system's issues and coming up with a possible solution that does not appear on the face of it to be connected to the problem.

Another solution to one of the key problems and the main bottleneck :32 - teacher quality and quantity - is using the Diaspora. The World Bank estimates that 8 out of 10 college educated Haitians live outside the country.:15 A way to attract them back to Haiti would be to offer dual citizenship.:15

A number of schools are run by religious organizations but many more are run as a business to make a profit. "The consequence of the privatization of education is that private households are carrying the economic burden of both the real cost of education and the private actor's profit" :22 Haiti has the highest percentage of private schools than any other country.:22

Repeating grades leads to a wider range of abilities in the classroom, making it that much more difficult teaching. This taxes an already unqualified teacher's abilities. Often teachers are only a few grades ahead of the students they are teaching.:16 Public school teachers typically are more qualified than private school teachers.:15There are no laws or regulations with respect to setting up a school so anyone can do it and begin teaching.

There is a lack of schools in Haiti - insufficient schools given the number of potential students. :17 One of the results of this is that it can be a long walk to school in the countryside, in the dark - a walk one way of 2 hours is not uncommon.:17Parents can be reluctant to send a 6 year old that far on their own or even an older girl - there are safety concerns.:19If the child does walk a long distance, they are often too tired to pay attention and may even fall asleep in class.:18 The time getting to and from school also cuts into the time to help the family at home. If the parents are relying on the child's labor, this long walk can be a disincentive to enrollment.:19 Delaying school enrollment leads to students starting school overaged which in turn has its own issues.

Schools can be selective about who they admit. A number of them will only admit children who read and write already.:12 This has made a big demand for pre-schools and creates one more hurdle to education for the lower income families.:12 The best preschools cost more than the best private primary schools. Education Minister Nesmy Manigat has set a new policy that disallows preschool graduations - a practice that has been to raise revenue rather than academic standards.

Families use different strategies to provide education despite the disincentives. Parents may focus their educational funds on the one child who appears to be the most promising academically. Or in the interests of fairness, allow one child to go to school, alternating children each year until all have had their chance and then repeat the cycle as funds allow. Since it may take at least 4 years to learn to read and write, dropping out before the first cycle is complete, typically makes an almost total loss of the money spent on that child's education.:29

Given the lack of schools for the number of children who want education, there is a high demand for seats even if a family has the money to pay for school fees.:31 At this point, it becomes a case of who they know - personal connections become necessary. Having connections to a Marraine or Parraine (Godmother or Godfather) who can influence a school's decision to enroll your child is vital.:31 There may actually be a number of influencers in chain - that all must be paid a fee - in order to secure a seat.:31

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.

ost 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.