Education Reform and the Instrumentalization of the Vernacular in Haiti
Haiti is the leading creolophone country in the world: its entire population, estimated at more than five million, speaks the vernacular language, Haitian Creole (HC), and only ten per cent possess a fair command of the official language, French. Since the late 1940s, the vernacular has evidenced steady progress toward attaining the status of national language.1 Although HC has not been granted official status, the constitution of the state stipulates the possible use of the vernacular in administrative or judicial matters in order to guarantee equal rights to monolingual Creole speakers. Increasingly, HC is displacing French in radio broadcasts; the readership of three monthly newsletters written exclusively in Creole (Bon Nouvèl, Boukan, Bwa Chandèl) has now reached more than 50,000; some of the more creative writers have adopted the vernacular, notably the playwright and novelist Frankétienne (Pèlin Tèt, Dézafi). The most significant event in this continuous extension of the domains of use of the vernacular has been a clearly enunciated shift in official educational policy. The Ministry of Education has proclaimed a new program whose keystone is the use of HC as the main classroom language at the first primary cycle, comprising the first four years of schooling (Bernard 1980).
KeywordsOfficial Language Personal Pronoun Language Planning Presidential Decree Maximum Deviance
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