Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Karshan to Vedrine on education (March 2003)


Karshan to Vedrine on education*

Haiti list, 5 March 2003

Vedrine raises very valid points about the education system in Haiti. Under President Preval the Minister of Education began to address these concerns by creating standardized education.

Paolo Friere, the Brazilian educator who dared to teach literacy to Brazil’s peasants, addressed these critical points in his Pedogogy of the Oppressed (published in numerous languages and once banned in South Africa, punishable by imprisonment), describing such teaching methods as a banking system where a teacher merely deposits the information and the pupil is graded for how well he can spit it back verbatim—usually without concern as to whether the student understood the material or concepts therein.

I think of that book when I hear Haitian children sitting for hours reciting material. Not all schools are operating like this. For two years my daughter went to a middle class Haitian school where the teachers were excited about the materials and the children were engaged in dialogue. Of course this also goes to the issue of how a society views children.

I have been haunted by the fact that very few Haitian students actually read novels, instead learning about novels from the notes of teachers passed from one to another.

I think what Friere was also pointing out, and Bob correct me if I’m wrong (Bob taught a Friere course!) was that such a system, as well as a society that is content to keep its people illiterate, is part of a structure to maintain the status quo in societies such as Brazil, Haiti, etc.

So, by changing the educational system to one where all children will learn and can excel, ultimately transending class lines, you are engaging in a revolution, that will ultimately transform the society. That is why Friere was originally thrown out of Brasil and why literacy was not on the government agenda before Aristide. Instead literacy workers were sought and killed (La Saline 1987?).

With a large percent of the schools in Haiti being private, and many of those being driven just by the desire for profit, or private schools being overcrowded because the government doesn’t provide enough schools, education suffers. That is why it is essential that the government of Haiti continue building schools throughout the country but also essential is teacher training and a new view of children.
* post from the Corbett listserve
From the Haiti Dream Keeper Archives