By Charles Tardieu, Ph. D.
Pétion-Ville, Thursday, October 1, 2020 ((rezonodwes.com)) –
Professor and linguist Robert Berrouët-Oriol a recently published an article entitled: “The school calendar of social apartheid in Haiti” (Le National, 2020) (1) to qualify the proposals for the recovery of the 2019-2020 school year irremediably affected by the political protest movements of September to December 2019. Then by the health emergency measure pronounced to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. This article presents in an innovative way the reality of the sociological, philosophical and economic assessment of the Haitian education system which has pleased some analysts and shocked others. Trade unionist Georges Wilbert Frank, General Coordinator of the UNOEH (Union of Normaliens and Educators of Haiti), endorsing the proposal of Berrouët-Oriol expresses the idea that the measures adopted by the Ministry of National Education and of Vocational Training (MENFP) for the 2019-2020 school year reinforce school apartheid in Haiti.
Jacques Yvon Pierre, educational analyst and sociologist, expressing the unease of some, questions the legitimacy of the concept of apartheid qualifying it again and wondering what type of sociology of education does it come under: macrosociology or microsociology. In addition, he questions the usefulness of this concept and its possible contribution to resolving school apartheid in Haiti. It thus feeds the debate essential to the analysis of our education system, particularly at a time when across the planet we are witnessing a profound questioning of all education systems, while here in Haiti, we seem to want to perpetuate, fundamentally, the same educational objectives and the same conceptions and ideologies including those instrumented by an insidious school apartheid and immediately justifying the massive failure into which it plunges schoolchildren. In the same line of thought, Jacques Abraham (2) believes that “school segregation is an inseparable social construct from the social relations of inequality in the Haitian school context (and) faithfully reproduces the social relations of inequality in the classrooms “
Having been the first to propose this concept of” school apartheid “to analyze the Haitian educational reality, I therefore see myself challenged by the emergence of this debate! As such, I thank both Berrouët-Oriol and Jacques Yvon Pierre who force to clarify the basic outlines by better describing how it applies to the Haitian situation. And, sound the alarm bells at this time of deep social, political, humanitarian and health crisis and worrying for the very survival of our country, Haiti. We should take the opportunity to bring the edges closer to the many other cases of foreign countries regularly described by bodies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, the PME, and teachers' unions in Quebec and France, and even by elected officials such as Alexandria Occasio-Cortez from New York, USA
The various dictionaries and researchers consulted attest that apartheid was the result of the historical anxiety of Afrikaners obsessed with their fear of being swallowed up by the mass of surrounding black peoples (Nittle; Giliomee; Mandela) (3). The dictionaries specify that apartheid is “any form of segregation”, and the latter is “the strict regulated separation of people belonging to a social group (defined by class, race, etc.) in the community. public life. Other sociologists and philosophers defining the concept of apartheid for South Africa suggest that it revolves around the political, social, economic and geographic division of the land. This theoretical overview, although rapid, nevertheless allows us to understand the mechanisms of application of the concept to the Haitian educational reality. (4)
Indeed, from the colony of Santo Domingo we saw how this system was articulated. , which Charles Tardieu (5) described as “colonial education” based on the Black Code. This education, which was expressed at the religious level by the obIigation made to slaves to attend regularly Sunday masses, served to justify the division of society into two large groups of masters and slaves, and enjoined the latter to accept their terms as a divine will. The sermons delivered during these Masses were articulated, by justifying them, around the political, social, economic and geographical divisions of society, enriched with epidermal and linguistic criteria, in the situation of the Colony of Santo Domingo! In a way, an apartheid situation before the letter! We can also detect in some of the new ruling classes of Haiti, the same “historical anxiety of these obsessed by their fear of being swallowed up by the mass of the surrounding black peoples.”
Tardieu also showed how during for years this colonial education would evolve into the current educational system which divides society into several categories or “multi-speed” schools and how these are reproduced. This “new” system, according to analyzes by the Working Group on Education and Training (GTEF), produces 95% of school failure. Indeed, the GTEF shows that out of a cohort of 100 children entering the first year of basic education, barely 5% succeed in completing the 13-year course of schooling and earning the diploma of end of secondary studies. The Cambridge Education group, in its “Sector Analysis” (2019) of the Haitian education system, confirms this same high level of school failure. There is therefore for the 95% of children a personal failure in school which results in massive educational failure and a huge economic and social loss for Haitian society as a whole.
These 95% of children endure the school failure belong to groups which undergo a “segregation” which is articulated, as in the days of the colony and apartheid known in South Africa, around political, social, economic and geographical divisions of the territory, in addition of segregation based on linguistic and epidermal divisions.
It is in this sense that we must conclude, as in South Africa, that school apartheid , in Haiti, aims at the educational division according to the multiple political, social, economic, geographical dimensions of the population, children and young people so that academic success is reserved for the favored layers (the 5% identified by the GTEF) . In addition, school apartheid in Haiti had, ex ante, used a much broader concept that included the epidermal and linguistic dimensions characteristic of the colonial environment of Santo Domingo and then of free and independent Haiti. Also, it seems entirely appropriate to apply with Robert Berrouët-Oriol and others the concept of school apartheid to the Haitian reality. This would then have the final objective of ensuring the perpetuation of the division of society around criteria of educational success and failures.
This is a particular expression of what Bourdieu and Passeron (6) call “symbolic violence”. This authorizes the institutionalization of an unrecognized power which in turn imposes particular meanings such as the academic failure of a majority of the population, not only as legitimate, but passes them off as a cultural defect of which this would be. the only one responsible by concealing the balance of power that creates and underlies them. This symbolic violence is then exercised not only with the consent of the victims, but above all with the interiorization that these populations carry within them of the root causes of the failure in question.
To the extent that the ministry's decision to complete at all costs the 2019-2020 school year and trying to recover at all costs 5 months of schooling will apply especially to establishments attended by 95% of schoolchildren already doomed to structural failure, there is reason to fear that this strategy reinforces the trajectory towards school apartheid and the reproduction of inequalities. Finally, the ministry's directives on the protection of schoolchildren against Covid-19 have the effect of reducing the 54 planned school days to half. This means that schoolchildren belonging to the 95% already doomed to fail will benefit from a number of teaching days and hours that do not offer the minimum teaching hours essential to assimilate the skills. already reduced from the program to a minimum. This also means that this decision has a good chance of propelling a large part of the population of young people from the most vulnerable backgrounds, the 95% of which the GTEF speaks, towards academic failure, towards academic failure.
It should be noted that this same phenomenon of “school apartheid” is also observed in many other school systems around the world. It confirms how the school failure that leads to dropping out of school very often results in behaviors that bring these young people closer to circles of social deviance and gangsterism, and most often concerns children from “vulnerable” backgrounds. It is denounced, for example, by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez representative in the US Congress of the 14th Congressional District of Bronx and Queens in New York. She explains in an intervention on her “Twitter” account (July 2020) how the school failure which affects a large number of schoolchildren in her district, and which risks to increase following the Covid-19, results in the dropping out of school and very often, for young people without any prospect of improving their material conditions, by seduction and recruitment by gangs.
Also in the United States, according to Jonathan Kozol (The Nation, December 8, 2005) : School apartheid, rarely mentioned in the press or openly confronted even among once progressive educators, is alive and well and growing rapidly (7). Kozol further reports how the United States Supreme Court clarified: “The Brown Supreme Court decision of 1954 was not intended to 'raise the scores' for minority children, but to give black children access to education. majority culture, so that they can negotiate it with more confidence, so that African Americans have an equal opportunity. Higher test scores will not be enough for the reckless to think that black children can be taught, no matter how good, in isolation and then have the confidence as adults to succeed in a white world where they are. have no experience ”(8).
In France, in an article entitled:“ School apartheid: “Our individual decisions collectively produce a disastrous result” ”, published on April 21, 2018, Gurvan Le Guellec reports how the economist Julien Grenet, who supervises the experiences of mixed education in Paris, explains that the capital has become an apartheid city. Felouzis, Liot and Perroton (2015) had exposed school apartheid in the Academy of Bordeaux (9).
Following his series of articles devoted to school apartheid in Île-de-France, Le Guellec receives a series of testimonies. Lucette's one particularly catches her attention: “About her, we just know that she is a certain age – her perfect anonymity on the internet proves it – that she has been a teacher all her career in the same primary school in Val- d'Oise, and that she therefore “knew well” the school apartheid – between rich and poor, between blacks and whites – which is rampant in Paris and its suburbs. “(10) Le Guellec, in this same series of articles, seeking to know how Paris” became an apartheid city “reports the words of Gilles Pécout, rector of the” Paris, city of segregation “academy. The words are strong, almost provocative, he writes: “Yes, Paris is an apartheid city, it's hard to admit, but it is a reality. “
In Quebec, Marie-Andrée Chouinard, reporting the position of the Centrale des unions du Québec, affirms that” The competition between the private and public networks on the playing field of schools leaves an unfair school map (…) . Success for all? Impossible to dream of it with a “school segregation” like ours. “She continues” The dream of equal opportunities for all schoolchildren, maintained in particular by the Commission of the Estates General on Education ten years ago, has all but the most bitter failures in reality, since Quebec is grappling with a system of “school apartheid”. »(11)
This is a concept well established in multiple assertions and applications both from the point of view of macrosociology and microsociology in several societies which deserves to be more scientifically validated as a tool for analyzing the functioning of Haitian education system, which nonetheless diminishes the already deep relevance. However, most annalists of the Haitian school system (Joint, 2008) (12) continue to use the concept of inequality to characterize the distribution of schools according to a typology of “multi-speed schools” which responds to many concerns. more culturalist which evacuate the complexity and the cause-and-effect relations which would respond better to the determinisms of the economic, social and political models set up and maintained by the leaders and the dominant classes of Haitian society.
The calendar apartheid school
The MENFP published a school calendar covering the period from August 17 to October 23 proposing to cover 54 school days which would translate into 270 hours of class for the fundamental and 324 hours for secondary. This would allow the schools affected by the measure to achieve a total of 120 school days, still below 20 days of the minimum international average of 140 school days per year. However, the return protocol published by the ministry (13) proposes, as one of the physical distancing measures to prevent contamination, a rotation of schoolchildren in the classroom. In schools with a minimum number of 60 pupils, such a rotation would take place at the rate of 30 pupils for 5 school days every 2 weeks. In the end, this would make for these schoolchildren a total of 27 days of recovery in class and not the 54 announced by the MENFP.
In short, the school year would cover for schools the most vulnerable categories of children (the 95% that the GTEF talked about!) 97 school days for the 2019-2020 school year. However, it is impossible to cover the learning offered in the ministry's curriculum in just 97 school days instead of 190 days! and pass the exams provided for by the regular evaluations.
Two scenarios can then be considered: first case : the curriculum objectives are reduced proportionally to the number of school days, in which case the children would receive discounted training so that they can “pass the exams” at the end of this 97-day academic year; while the schoolchildren in the 5% who completed the school year with hybrid strategies have already completed all regular stages of the year, including final exams, this time based on the entire curriculum; second case : schoolchildren in the first category (95%) fail en masse and have to repeat the year 2019-2020. In these two cases, children from vulnerable backgrounds are the only ones to pay dearly for the consequences of the “country lock” and of the Covid-19.
Let us note, in passing, that the 54 days to try to complete the he 2019-2020 academic year will be as many school days to be subtracted from the 2020-2021 calendar, only for schools that are victims of school apartheid. Since everything leads to believe that the minority of schools in the 5% group will operate on a regular schedule around 190 class / year. This choice of school governance will, in effect, result in two separate school calendars for the 2020-2021 academic year. A first will display more or less 97 days of class and a second will respect the 190 days which promote quality success! Result: this school calendar widens the educational inequalities between two large groups of Haitian children: 1) those belonging to the majority of 95% reported by the GTEF generally doomed to failure and 2) the traditionally favored minority.
The demands of public school teachers
The MENFP has certainly underestimated the explosive value of the demands of public sector teachers, and probably continues on this path. The training, working and living conditions of education workers (the “teaching condition”) of the public and private sectors together leave much to be desired, as everyone knows. Responsibility for improving it certainly rests with the system’s main regulator and regulator, the Ministry of Education. The strike launched by the unions was predictable and the ministry chose to minimize the probability of it and did not take it into account in its scenarios of resuming the school year as one of the probable threats to the execution of a timetable. school very tight. It would have taken a stubbornly sustained focus on success for the ministry as well as the unions to agree to put the interests of children at the forefront. It was necessary to establish a responsible and measured dialogue within a framework of frank partnership to replace hostilities.
In the circumstances, the union demands and the combative intransigence of the ministry became all the more virulent as it seemed to have no 'issue. In light of the concept of school apartheid, we must realize that these hostilities mainly affect schoolchildren from marginalized backgrounds who are ultimately excluded from solutions, already lacking, to resume school activities to complete the academic year. 2019-2020. These schoolchildren, as they themselves testify, face the failure of the examinations that the ministry insists on carrying out despite numerous proposals for an alternative solution promoting the success of schoolchildren.
No to school apartheid, yes to the academic success of all children
Finally, we must recognize that Robert Berrouët-Oriol judiciously used the concept of school apartheid for Haiti. We must therefore propose the hypothesis that this model of return organized to save a school year could have as extremely unfortunate consequences, school failure and the reinforcement of school apartheid for the most at risk categories of Haitian schoolchildren. It could also precipitate the decline of public education since we should expect these effects to affect much more the public schools which would be the most prone to academic failure since these schools were, in great majority, incapable. to maintain properly school activities during the “Peyi Lòk” in autumn 2019, the kidnapping period in November-December and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The only strategy to curb the effects of school apartheid in this post-Covid-19 period would consist in emphasizing and promoting academic success thanks to all the possible academic remedies spread over one to two years of schooling and in particular thanks to available technologies and hybrid education, that is to say – say face-to-face and remotely by mobilizing the effective participation of parents. Thus, the three crises affecting the Haitian school system in 2019-2020 would have been put to contribution towards the essential renewal of Haitian education.
Providing academic success to the 95% left behind
In order not to “conclude” with a subject of such importance, it seems more appropriate to propose further strategies aimed at working towards academic success, despite and towards everything, for the school years 2019-2020 and 2020- 2021 for these categories of schoolchildren in particular, but for all the others as well. This academic success carried away in extremis could-should serve as a starting point for the post-Covid Haitian education system which would now offer young Haitians of all categories success as the first prospect of life. The only instrument of such a prospect of success for all children responding to a desire for success for all remains the widest possible partnership between all the actors, the agents, the education sector, that is to say. say a public, private, community, associative and international partnership.
Such a proposal certainly shakes up preconceived ideas and the poverty of the traditional facility. But the massive academic and educational failure of the Haitian education system in all its components from early childhood to higher and university education, including vocational and technical training, requires radical and innovative solutions! It is therefore less a question of asserting that one element of these radical changes is impossible, but rather of getting to work to think and conceive of the new in all its complexity and its promises of wealth!
This proposal is certainly in line with the meaning of “school fraternity” demanded by high school students to deal with the negative effects of school apartheid reinforced by the situation of “Peyi Lòk”, the period of kidnapping and the time of the Covid 19 and more particularly to ensure the availability of teachers to prepare them for the exams scheduled for November 2020 to complete the 2019-2020 academic year.
(1) Berrouët-Oriol, Robert (2020) The calendar of social apartheid in Haiti, Le National, [En ligne]: https://www.madinin-art.net/le-calendrier-scolaire-de-lapartheid-social-en -haiti /, July 23, 2020, Port-au-Prince.
(2) Abraham, Jacques, (2020) The Haitian school: Between segregation and social relations of inequality, L’Harmattan, Paris.
(3) On this subject, see: Hermann Giliomee, The Afrikaners – Biography of a people, 2003; Nittle, Nadra Kareem. “A Brief History of South African Apartheid. »ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/brief-history-of-south-african-apartheid-2834606; Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.
(4) While admitting that much more research deserves to be conducted to better define the description and application of such a concept in the Haitian reality.  (5) Tardieu, Charles, (1980) Education in Haiti from the colonial period to the present day (1980), University of Montreal, doctoral thesis in Comparative and International Education, Prix de la Société d'histoire, de geography and geology of Haiti, Éditions Henri Deschamps, 1991, Port-au-Prince.
(6) Bourdieu, Pierre et Passeron, Jean-Claude, (1970) La Reproduction, Elements d'une theory du system d teaching, Collection Le sens commun, Les Éditions de Minuit, Paris.
(7) Jonathan Kozol (2005) The Nation, 8 December 2005, [En ligne]: https://www.alternet.org/2005/12 / apartheid_education /
(9) Felouzis, G .; Liot, F .; Perroton, J. (2015) School apartheid. Survey on ethnic segregation in secondary schools, Seuil, Paris.
(10) Le Guellec, Gurvan, (2018), School apartheid: “Our individual decisions collectively produce a disastrous result”, Nouvel Observateur du Monde, SA, [En ligne]: https://www.nouvelobs.com/education/20180419.OBS5484/apartheid-scolaire-nos-decisions-individuelles-produire-collectivement-un-resultat-desastreux.html Genealogy19659003(11) Chouinard, Marie- Andrée (2006), Apartheid scolaire, Le Devoir, Montréal, [En ligne]: https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/109852/apartheid-scolaire, May 24, 2006, Quebec.
(12) Joint , Louis-Auguste, (2008) “Educational system and social inequalities in Haiti. The case of Catholic schools ”, Research and resources in education and training [En ligne]2 | 2008, posted on April 24, 2020, consulted on September 20, 2020. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/rref/861ofond19659003 marge(13) MENFP-DSS (2020) Health protocol relating to schools during the Covid-19 pandemic, Port-au-Prince.