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#4691: On languages used in Ayitian classrooms (fwd)

From: Jean Poincy <caineve@idt.net>

Since Dr. François Duvalier brought the century long neglected and
illiterate masses into the exclusive schools, French ceased to be the
sole language used in classrooms for teaching. Prior to that, the
privileged groups for whom these schools were designed had no learning
problems in French, the language they could speak and understood as it
was used to teach. Indeed, Ayitian best intellectuals ever were products
of that exclusive system.

Gradually under Duvalier, French has lost its official status in the
classrooms while the unofficial Ayitian has imposed itself. According to
the argument pushing for a widely use of Ayitian in the classroom,
qualitative progress was to be the result. That was not the case; today,
the system is ever inefficient. If Ayitian is used in the classrooms and
the system is still in decay, definitely the problem is not with the use
of French language to teach. 

It has to do with:

1- the reference materials written in French which students don't
understand. Moreover, these materials are scarce and students have
tremendous difficulties to learn well with them when found. The obvious
reason is that they don't know French.

2- the deficient techniques of teaching are the main culprits. I
strongly believe that with proper/efficient teaching techniques,
whichever language used to teach would make no difference. 

The former has created the atmosphere for Ayitian to impose itself in
the classrooms. Being aware of the problems, professors/teachers at all
levels make it a point to cover materials in Ayitian 99% of teaching
time, and to circumvent the lack of materials, they dictate notes to be
learned by heart. Ayitians students never engage their mind to really
understand the notes, and make efforts to carefully read and understand
them. They prefer memorizing and reciting them later word for word, coma
for coma, period for period etc. In fact, it is not required to try to
understand as long as they can vomit whatever the profs dictate to them.

Although the argument of learning in one's native language has its due
merit, it becomes weak in the face of the latter point and when looking
at people's ability (of any age actually) to learn in languages
different from theirs. If Africans are able to learn in French (or
English), excel in school and have a better command of French in all
aspects than Ayitians, then the problem definitely has to do with
teaching techniques that Ayitians don't master. Hopefully the Cubans
will show them how.

In other words, whether Ayitian is widely used in the classrooms or not,
the problem would still be there. Creolist linguists can well use the
native language issue to advance their studies which of course can
benefit the language, but their accomplishment in elevating the language
status will never prove that not teaching in Ayitian is what kept Ayiti
in the state that it is. Techniques of teaching are what matters.

Ayiti has lived, lives and will live