While shaping the rich history of Haiti, Haitian Creole has come a long way. Haitian Creole now spoken by a majority 95% of the population, is shaping its culture and its future. In this article we will explore how French despite being a remnant and reminder of Haiti’s tumultuous past is seen as a language of affluence and possibilities. We will also explore how a new breed of inspirational educational thinkers and pioneers are viewing Haitian Creole as the necessary element for the prosperous future of Haiti.
Haitian Creole developed as the result of intermingling of slaves brought in from West Africa and native Haitian slaves and plantation owners. Since there was virtually no effort to teach and educate these workers in French, Haitian Creole use in educational system began to take shape. It took no time when mass resistance and insurgencies of the slaves were being organised because their common objective was understood and vouched for because of the common medium of language.
When Haiti gained independence, some elitists continued to view Haitian Creole as a secondary language to French. This can be seen in the government policies as well which declared French as the language of instruction and Creole as the tool of education. The attitude of the French colonists that Haitian Creole was an inferior form of French and that it was a medium of conversation only for people with limited education. This attitude not only damaged the confidence of Creole speaking population but also inculcated a false sense of superiority in the population who had acquired some expertise in the French language.
As a legitimate tool of education that instilled confidence in its students
By 2015 several social scientific reports had pointed out a disturbing trend among its young population. The students who had spoken Haitian Creole all their lives experienced a significant drop in their confidence feeling lost and discouraged to pursue their education. Looking at all these trends, the Haitian government decided to actively advocate Haitian Creole by introducing a policy that educated the Haitian young population in Haitian Creole. Once a strong foundation of education was established, the students began to feel confident of acquiring any other language they desired, especially French.
This jarring disability of the Haitian Government to educate its own people was now taken care of in an efficient way. In fact, several institutes of repute are now offering their expertise in creating content in Haitian Creole for subjects such as Science, Math and languages. The advent of digital tools has also led to the increase in the quality of education which has since become more constructive, productive and interactive.
Earlier when French was the necessary medium of education, only a few, most exceptional students would become able to master it. If this was not corrected, it would have become difficult to predict the success of Haiti as a country. With the country already fighting abject poverty and developmental challenges, the lack of education in its generations would have created a further lag which would take monumental efforts to overcome. In a country where even the professors and teachers have only a reasonable understanding of French to continue to teach in French would in the long run prove to be a major handicap.
Models of technology enabled education are on the rise. Technologists and local entrepreneurs are focusing on designing tools that imbibe the diversity of minds as well as languages. Teachers and instructors are focusing on developing new pedagogical tools and resources to rapidly experiment and launch modes of education that prove to be the most effective. As it is well known that any scientific progress or even arts is not possible without establishing a trusted and effective mode of communication. Therefore, students are encouraged to use the language they know and understand to express themselves and their ideas clearly. Once the foundational experience has been acquired, any other skill is reasonably easier to master. The ‘aha moments’ for the students have to be curated and presented to them in a way that makes it easier for them to have more such moments and create the same for others as well.