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Resistance to Reform of Creole as a Medium of Instruction in Schools: Rebuilding Haiti’s Educational System

Lauren Christian Gibson


This paper examines the educational and linguistic situation in Haiti by positioning it in the broader linguistic reality of a post-colonial society where language stratification prevails. A critical approach is used to explore the language situation in Haiti through a historical, political, and social context, focusing on linguistic discrimination and inequality, which are perpetuated through the language of instruction in schools. In looking ahead at re-creating Haiti's educational system with a particular focus on language of instruction, Haiti's current educational language policy is explored by examining the ways that the government and schools affect language use and language acquisition in Haiti. Particular emphasis is placed on the Bernard Reform of 1982, which placed Creole as a medium of instruction in the early grades, yet received much resistance from monolingual Creole speakers as well as the upper and middle classes.  The author concludes with recommendations for future reform including implementing Creole as the medium of instruction in schools, teaching French as a foreign language, and empowering policymakers, teachers, parents and students through awareness of the current research on the importance of instruction in one's native language.

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