For some time now, immediately after the official opening of the 2019-2020 school year in early September 2019, we note with bitterness the tumultuous closure of schools in Haiti. Since then the doors of the schools have remained closed. To the prejudice of the national community. This situation has lasted too long, besides it weakens the socio-economic development of the country, it destabilizes the institutions of the State and thus compromises the future of the nation. In any case, the school, a national cultural good, torn at the price of long struggles, can not be put on the back burner for the benefit of politics. This is worrying, the school is not an institution of the state that can be left behind and appropriated at the right time. On the contrary, the education provided at school must precede the quintessence of social movements. That is why it must be able to function without disruption or interruption.
Yesterday, some of our ancestors were the maroons of the syllabaire, after the independence of Haiti some of us became promoters of the syllabaire. Today, with the closure of schools within the Republic, we have the political responsibility to constitute defenders of the syllabary. More than ever, we must recognize that those who want to confiscate the conquered right to go to school and learn freely want to bring us back to the state of servitude.
This text wants to be an alert, the cry of alarm of a worried and concerned citizen, a defender of the syllabary, who calls all his wishes to the reopening of classes. It is a plea for school and education in Haiti. The absence of school in the current political dynamic is an indication that something is wrong in Haitian society. This deleterious situation is illustrated by extreme political polarization. In the specific case of the school, the best thing would be that an agreement (minimum) be reached between the protagonists to ensure the resumption of activities. The political protagonists, from all sides, from the height of their patriotism, are called to defend the regular functioning of the school and promote education in the country!
Advocacy for the school. –
There is a moral thought in French, learned at school, which accurately states that “the school raises a nation”. Indeed, the school is a collective good, it is the keystone that allows individuals within a national community to educate, create, cooperate, produce, prosper, innovate and to project on the horizon. It is found that the nations which influence the destinies of the world are the nations in which the school is generalized and is within reach of the great majority of the population; so the school is guaranteed and protected.
It is not recommended to anyone to interrupt the upward march of the school. Moreover, even in countries that are at war with other states or are in a heartbreaking state of civil war, the belligerents manage to let the school function. Haiti is not at war with any nation in the world, nor is it in civil war, yet the school does not work today. This state of affairs must change, it is in the national interest of all that the school functions.
School is an ongoing activity. She represents eating and drinking children. It is essential for parents and members of a community. It represents the engine of socio-economic development of a nation. In short, school is essential in a society. The school must be protected, at all times, by the authorities of the State, the police, the masters and teachers, the teachers, the educational agents, the syndicalists, the political protagonists and by everyone. School can not be a secondary activity to politics and dependent on it. On the contrary, the school must be untangled from daily politics because it concerns the state (in its essence perennial) in the first place, the formation of citizens and the nation (in its temporal evolution relative to the present and the future). ‘to come up).
The school has all its importance in Haiti, a state formed as a result of struggles and wars against slavery and colonialism. Yes, here more than elsewhere, the school has a particular historical importance. Like freedom and independence, the school was torn from the hands of French settlers. They had always refused school access to the blacks and slaves of the colony of Santo Domingo who, through their sweat and daily work, offered them all their material wealth and economic opulence. During the colonial period, slaves who scribbled their names and clumsily read a few lines were exceptions. The Haitian historian Jean Fouchard considers them as “The browns of the syllabary” because they had to “maroon” (brown) to achieve it. For example, Toussaint-Louverture, former slave, became governor-general of Santo Domingo, then of all the island of Haiti, the precursor of the independence of Haiti, who had learned to read at 40 years of age , was one of his famous syllabary chestnuts. The case of General Toussaint is illustrative. On the one hand, it is an example which shows that school, education, can free the individual and make it reach unsuspected heights. On the other hand, it shows that nothing was won in advance.
It was only after the proclamation of independence in 1804 that General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the founder of the Haitian State, established the first schools in the country. Since then, schools tend to expand (slowly). In this sense, the school represents a conquest resulting from the victorious revolution. We can not trivialize it, boycott it, throw it into pasture; we must instead value and promote it. From 1804 to the present, all that we could achieve on our own at the regional and international level is thanks to the school. The school allowed us, for example, to discuss our existence as a state in the concert of nations. This is only a step. Today we are still far from what the school should be in terms of quality and quantity, but we must persevere. After 215 years of independence, our country still has a high rate of illiteracy, amounting to more than 50% of the population. It is not without reason that human development indicators (HDI) are very critical in Haiti compared to the neighbors of our geographic region, the Caribbean. The school is disturbed by any wind. It’s time to pull ourselves together and leave for good.
We can not afford the luxury of closing the schools (indefinitely), even on the pretext of justifying wanting to solve a political problem. Currently there are more than 2 million children, schoolchildren and students who do not attend classrooms, not to mention young people from secondary, vocational and university schools. A day without school in an impoverished country like Haiti is already a problematic issue. Three months without school is really too much to bear; the country’s economy suffers as well. This is why he is called upon to the actors of the “political class” who keep the running of the school in their hands to surpass themselves in order to allow the resumption of school and educational activities as soon and as well as possible. Who loves his country, commits himself to his blooming in better possible conditions. The school, emancipatory, has the virtue of offering this framework of development necessary for socio-economic development. The democratic republican school has no political partisanship towards children, it educates citizens in order to emancipate the nation from the taints and slags that keep it in distress.
Dear compatriots, of any political tendency, let’s all act for the reopening of classes. Moreover, alongside social, formal, cultural, cognitive, educational and psychological aspects, school is a socio-economic activity that allows several sectors of national life (teachers, teachers, school directors, taxi and motorcycle, retailers and small traders and other economic agents) to make a daily living in the social chain of production and marketing. The school has ramifications with all segments of life in society, it binds us to each other. Closing classrooms has a big impact on the 2.7 million people currently in a situation of food insecurity.
Our situation is alarming: by closing the school or forcing the closure of the school, those responsible for this unfortunate initiative foment, probably despite themselves, obscurantism very often reproached to several Haitian politicians, including President Jean- Pierre Boyer. At the same time, they reinforce, without paying too much attention, the impoverishment of hundreds of people who live in school-related activities. I want to believe that no one wants to carry this heavy responsibility to practice political obscurantism or to contribute to the impoverishment of their own compatriots. The best way to demonstrate his good intentions is to encourage the reopening of classrooms and to make real arrangements for reopening, if necessary.
Advocacy for education –
School can not be an instrument of pressure or blackmail in the hands of any political sector to satisfy its own political agenda. The school can not be confiscated for unacknowledged purposes. Instead of taking children out of classrooms, it is more useful to bring in those who do not yet have access. Throwing stones at schools and throwing human excrement into an educational institution are reprehensible acts, both anti-social, anti-patriotic and anti-productive. The school environment must be protected from everyday political protests. In all circumstances, students should feel safe and have plenty of time to go to school.
School must be understood as a democratic right for all, in a society that evolves according to the principles of the rule of law. School benefits the individual rather than the society in which he lives. School is the royal way by which a person can achieve emancipation, self-fulfillment. It aims, among other things, the integral, harmonious and balanced development of the individual through the acquisition of a body of knowledge, know-how, techniques, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that are essential to generate assets, acquire goods and services, integrate better and better into his community and participate in its evolution. To deprive children and young people of the benefits that the school is likely to offer them, is to confiscate them, for example, a material well-being, possibly a life based on principal morals and learning useful for their development. In general, education has a positive impact on employment, income, health, poverty reduction, wealth creation, increased production.
There is an intrinsic link between school and education– the two are linked in real life. As I advocate for the reopening of classes for the benefit of children, I am defending access to education for young people and the general public. Education can free the individual from his torpor and put him in a privileged position to defend his rights, fulfill his duties, provide for himself, his family, his family and also contribute to the development of his country. The more educated a person is, the more they are masters of their destiny and their environment.
It is understandable that school, education in general, is essential to the development of a country, the strengthening of the state and the actual constitution of the nation. As a result, we must do everything to unblock the school and make education more and more functional.
Given that school functioning is becoming an issue for political actors of the moment, we all help to depoliticize the school. To this end, the conflicting parties are requested to reach an agreement on a functional and sustainable basis.
In this respect, I repeat a proposal that I formulated on September 24th in the program “Le Point” of Radio Métropole. The proposal is to sign an agreement (even minimal) between the authorities and the opposition sectors for the regular operation of the school in Haiti.
With this agreement, which could be called: “Social and democratic pact for the regular operation of the school”, the government can now ensure the reopening of classes. For its part, the opposition, which is called to direct the destinies of the country one day, will have the guarantee that in future the school will not be disturbed by any political sector. Ultimately, society will win (especially children, parents and education workers). Everyone will be reassured that the functioning of the school is guaranteed by the state and protected by key players in society. In the same dynamic, education can take its course.
To conclude this plea, I think it is important to emphasize that it is the school, with all that that entails: education, science, research, capital, curricula, technological innovations, which can contribute to changing the mentalities of individuals and the poor-development of societies. Politics, even if well ordered, is only an adjunct to material changes. I dream that tomorrow, more than a syllabary, every Haitian student will have at least a functional electronic gadget in hand to materialize his dreams. In the meantime, the school must be able to function regularly. The protagonists of the current political movement are called to the rendezvous to contribute. To answer this patriotic call is to change your attitude and put your action in the path of renewal. The education acquired over the years makes it easier to understand the legitimate, political, economic and social demands of the population. It also requires new strategies of struggles, new behaviors and innovative actions that can capture the attention and seek the support of the greatest number in its own interests. Thus everyone will have more chance to succeed in his actions.
November 18-19, 2019
Watson Denis, Ph.D.
Graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the State University of Haiti (UEH)
Professor of Caribbean History, International Relations and Haitian Social Thought, UEH.