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#3196: Letter to the editor: A response from Laleau


Dear Jepiem,

Of course your recommendations are right -- but did you notice that you 
started with "First throw out the politicians and don't let them get their 
hands on any aid money..."? Who is going to throw them out? Replace them with 
whom else? (Some Haitians that I spoke with in 1995 told me they were 
disappointed in the US military intervention because they had thought and 
hoped the US would simply take over the government and run it right...) We 
get into a Catch-22 type of situation as long as the economics remain the 
same... witness the new Haitian police. They started off very as very 
idealistic young people but the same combination of conditions that existed 
in the past is rapidly pressuring them into replicating their predecesors.  
And the economics remains the same because the politicians are basically 
coming out of the same economic milieu as well... ad infinitem, it would 

So where does the qualitative change come from??? From what I read of the 
early Lavalas program, it sounded like transparency of government (and 
honesty) were steps in the right direction. But it also seems like naivete in 
the face of overwhelming odds set up that lamb for slaughter... 

Bob Corbett recently posted on his Philosophy of Education list a description 
of Paolo Freire's works on Pedagogy of the Oppressed that talks about the 
kind of changes that need to happen within the oppressed so that they do not 
replicate the abuses of the oppressors... he said he can't post it to the 
List because it's not about Haiti -- why don't you contact him and ask him to 
post you (off list) his remarkable summary of Freire's work? We could all 
benefit from it, and it's a remarkably good place to start. 

Was Project Alpha using that model of literacy education, by the way?

Also: I wonder what it would be like if Project Alpha could be re-instituted, 
and in addition to traditional literacy (reading and writing), include 
computer usage... from my experience with Haitian people, I have found them 
by and large to be very open to the "new", very curious about the 
possibilities of technology, and quite willing to invent and create. 
Computers are being used with kindergartners here in the USA -- they do not 
require basic adult literacy, and can be a powerful tool in TEACHING literacy 
as well... (Yes, I know it requires electricity and infrastructure -- at 
least batteries and a satellite phone connection -- Where is Bill Gates when 
Haiti needs him?) As much as I mourn the loss of the traditional agricultural 
way of life, I think Haitian people (urban and rural) deserve the option of 
using all the tools available to the world community at large, and that 
includes education -- education of all sorts. I don't think it's necessary to 
move peasants from the kind of farming that they currently do on up through 
every stage of urbanization until finally they reach the modern age -- I 
would like to see them have the choice of using all the tools, though. 

Nancy Laleau