27.5 C
New York
Saturday, June 15, 2024

Empowering the Haitian Minority: A Model for Bilingual Literacy in the Dominican Republic

By Daniel M. SchweissingINTRODUCTIONThe topic of literacy for the Haitian people of the Dominican Republic is an important issue, and an issue that I am familiar with from having spent two years working with Haitian-Dominicans while I was a volunteer teacher with American Baptist International Ministries. In order to better understand both the cultural context of the Haitian-Dominicans as well as the educational needs, I would like to divide this report into two sections.In Part I, I will provide an overview of the cultural context in which the Haitian-Dominicans live. First, I will look at the history of the Island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the two countries of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Second, I will look at the economic factors that have led to the migration of Haitians from their own country into the Dominican Republic. Third, I will discuss the linguistic environment, looking at Spanish, French, and Creole –the three major languages used in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Next, I will focus on the Haitian subculture living within the Dominican Republic, discussing their unique cultural situation. And finally, I will give an overview of the educational situation in the Dominican Republic.After having provided the background information that is necessary to fully understand the situation of the Haitian-Dominicans, Part II of this report will deal specifically with the possibilities of using literacy and education as a means of empowering the Haitian minority and helping them to improve their situation in the Dominican Republic. In this section I will present a model for bilingual literacy that is grounded in the theories of empowerment and social change, as well as the background information presented in Part I.PART I: AN OVERVIEW OF THE HAITIAN-DOMINICAN MINORITYHISTORYThe island of Hispaniola was first discovered by Europeans in 1492 when Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the new world. Hispaniola, a Caribbean island located six-hundred miles to the southeast of Florida and just west of Puerto Rico, was originally colonized by two different European powers, Spain and France. The eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, which now form the Dominican Republic, were settled by the Spanish. The Spanish intermarried with the Taino Indians who originally inhabited the Island, thus creating what eventually became a Mestizo Spanish speaking culture. In contrast, the western third of Hispaniola, which became present day Haiti, was settled by the French. Unlike the Spanish, the French chose to develop their colony on the basis of plantations which were run by imported slave labor. The black slaves who were imported from western Africa eventually mixed their own languages with French, creating a Creole that is still the popular language of Haiti today.Although Haiti and the Dominican Republic were originally settled by different colonial powers, their histories did not occur in isolation from one another. Shortly after Haitian independence from the French, the Haitians invaded the Dominican Republic, where they occupied for twenty-two years (1822-44). It should be noted that following the Haitian withdrawal at the end of the occupation, many Haitians deserted or were left behind. Since that time, there has been a “continuous infiltration” across the border along with periodic attempts by the Dominican Government to control immigration (Bell 1981). Although there has been a small Haitian presence in the Dominican Republic since the end of the occupation, massive Haitian migration did not begin in earnest until after the turn of the century (see the next section on “the Economics of Sugar”).It is interesting to note that Dominican independence day, which is celebrated each year on February 27, does not observe independence from Spain, but independence from Haiti. It is probably during the era of the Haitian occupation that animosity first developed between the people of these two countries. Bell (1981) points out that prior to the Haitian occupation, the Dominican Republic was referred to as Spanish Haiti. The word “Dominican” did not even exist, and it was only after twenty-two years of Haitian occupation that a Dominican identity and nationality actually emerged.THE ECONOMICS OF SUGARLegend has it that Columbus introduced sugar cane to the Dominican Republic during his second voyage to the new world. In fact, small quantities have been grown in the Dominican Republic since the 1500’s. Spanish and Italian immigrants in the 1860’s in addition to the migration of displaced sugar planters during Cuba’s Ten Year War (1868-78), led to the large scale development of sugar in the D.R. (Pariser 1993). Since the 1860’s, the Dominican Republic’s economy has revolved around the export of sugar (Pariser 1993).Since around 1915, Haitians have been crossing over into the Dominican Republic to work in the sugar fields and harvest the sugar cane (zafra). Many Haitians have chosen to return to their own country after the zafra each year, but many have chosen to stay. Today, over half a million Haitians remain in the Dominican Republic.Since 1952, the Dominican and Haitian governments have signed bilateral agreements providing 20,000 Haitian cane cutters (kongos) per year for state owned sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic (Cockroft 1989). For example, in 1986 President Duvalier of Haiti received $2.25 million in return for providing laborers. As a result of these agreements, 20,000 – 30,000 Haitians are lured (or kidnapped) across the border by buscones who earn $7 – $20 for each worker delivered (Pariser 1993).The kongos make up about one-third of the labor force for the government owned Economic Council for Sugar (CEA – Consejo Economico de Azucar in Spanish). They earn around $2.25 daily, and until recently a percentage of this was deducted for food and lodging and they were paid the difference in Haitian gourdes upon their return home (Bell 1981). In this situation, the diet is minimal, workers are lodged in huts under quasi-military discipline and have minimal contact with Dominicans. They work twelve hours or more each day for substandard wages and live in inadequate housing without the benefit of electricity, running water, or toilets (Pariser 1993). They are not allowed to affiliate with labor unions or any other formal organizations (Bell 1981).Pariser (1993) describes contemporary Haiti and Dominican Republic as being, “two countries with their backs turned towards each other.” Former Haitian rule over the Dominican Republic plus racial apprehensions continue to make relations tenuous. Dominicans view the Haitians as “inferior serfs whose destiny is to harvest the Dominicans’ sugarcane for them.” Haitians face the paradox of being in a country that on one hand requires their labor, but yet on the other rejects their presence (Pariser 1993).Bell (1981) further elaborates on this phenomenon, explaining that Dominicans, no matter how poor, do not cut sugar cane. First, Dominicans see cane-cutting as labor fit only for slaves or descendants of slaves. Doing this work is to admit that one is Haitian. Second, cane cutting is hard-low paying work. Since the zafra is only two-hundred days long, it is not possible for a worker to survive the other one-hundred and sixty-five days of dead time during the off season. Thus, cane-cutting is a job that is better suited for seasonal migrant workers like the kongos.LINGUISTIC BACKGROUNDAs I mentioned earlier, Haiti was settled by the French, and the Dominican Republic was settled by the Spanish. Spanish eventually became the main language of the Dominican Republic, and the country remains a monolingual Spanish speaking culture to this day. In contrast, French became the official language of Haiti. But the West African slaves who were brought over to work in the French plantations mixed the grammatical patterns of their own languages with those of French, creating a new language known as Haitian Creole. French remains the official language of Haiti, with a total of eight percent of the population being fluent in this language. In contrast, Creole is the popular language of Haiti, being spoken by nearly one-hundred percent of the population (Didiez 1984).This system of diglossia, as it presently exists in Haiti, obviously creates a number of implications for the education system since the medium of instruction has traditionally been in French. The upper-classes who speak French have the opportunity to become educated in that language, but the majority who are Creole speakers remain illiterate. Since Creole is the language of the majority, it is this language with which one most frequently comes into contact when working with Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic, as well as the related problem of illiteracy.Creole is a recent and modern language, being roughly four-hundred years old. Some linguists would suggest that Creole is made up of African grammar and French vocabulary. Creole has “the accent, sweetness, harmonious rhythm, musical qualities and tone present in all of the African languages.” (Didiez 1984:8) Also, another African contribution is the numerous proverbs based on the philosophy of the Haitian people. Creole is not a well documented language. Only a minimal number of grammar books and dictionaries have been created for this language. The Bible is the only major written work that has been translated into Creole, and there are at least four major writing systems that are in use for the Creole language.In the Eastern half of the Dominican Republic, Creole is spoken in over two-hundred sugar-cane communities called bateyes. Haitians are the largest ethnic minority in the country, with over 500,000 persons. In fact, use of Haitian Creole is so widespread in the Dominican Republic that its influence has affected the speech of lower class Dominicans and those who live near the border (Didiez 1984).THE HAITIAN SUBCULTURE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICWe can think of the Haitians living in the Dominican Republic as belonging to two different groups: those who live in the bateyes and those who live in the cities. Those who live in the bateyes tend to have a greater degree of language maintenance. In this type of situation, Creole tends to be the language of the home and the community and Spanish is used only with outsiders such as for work or going to town. Haitians who live in the cities tend to lose their language and ethnic identity more quickly. Because Spanish and Creole both compete with each other in the urban environment, Spanish quickly becomes the dominant or, in some cases, the only language.Attitudes towards the use of one’s native language vary from person to person and group to group. During my two years in La Romana, I had plenty of opportunity to observe the attitudes of urban Haitian-Dominicans towards the use of Creole. For the most part, middle-aged and older people seemed to be interested in using Creole and maintaining that as a medium of communication, even though many of them are quite fluent in Spanish. At the other extreme are the young people who were raised in the city. They seemed to be more resistant to the use of Creole, consider themselves to be Dominican, and often can speak or understand very minimal Creole or frequently deny that they even know the language. Young people who have grown up in the rural bateyes, however, seemed to show more pride in their Haitian roots and frequently speak Creole as a means of promoting their ethnic identity.I should probably mention that the Haitian-Dominicans who live in the Dominican Republic form a minority subculture that is discriminated against by both mainstream Dominicans and mainstream Haitians. Anti-Haitian sentiment has been reflected in public policy as recently as the summer of 1991 when Dominican President Balaguar ordered a massive repatriation of Haitians. Some 70,000 Haitians were forcefully deported or chose to return to Haiti on their own following this order. Many, however, found that they were not welcomed upon their return to Haiti. Long (1992) describes the situation, “Life in Haiti was ‘foreign’ to these immigrant families who, although originally coming from Haiti, had spent a lifetime in the Dominican Republic.” Thus, the Haitian-Dominicans find themselves in the difficult situation of being discriminated against in the Dominican Republic for being Haitian and in Haiti for being Dominican.THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEMIn the Dominican Republic, education is free and compulsory from ages seven to fifteen, where schools are available. In addition to public schools, private schools are allowed to operate. Private schools are required to use the same primary curriculum as the state-sponsored public schools. Secondary curriculum for private schools does not have to be the same as that of public schools, but it must be approved by the national department of education in order for the school to be able to grant diplomas (Bell 1981).Bell (1981) suggests that one of the key problems in the Dominican education system is a lack of qualified teachers. This problem is complicated by the fact that school buildings are often inadequate and a 1:50 teacher-student ratio is not uncommon. In theory, a primary teacher must have graduated from a special teacher’s school known as an Escuela Normal. This is a three year teacher training course. Normally, a candidate must have completed his intermediate studies to enter a rural Escuela Normal and completed two years of high school to enroll in an urban Escuela Normal. In practice, the requirements have often been waived, and around 56-88% of teachers are underqualified by Dominican standards (Bell). Since the early 1990’s, however, the standards for teachers have been raised, but it is not known at this time how many teachers, if any, are being allowed to continue in their present positions without taking steps to upgrade their skills.PART II: AN EDUCATIONAL MODEL FOR EMPOWERMENTNow that I have given an overview of the Haitian-Dominican situation, it should be clear that there is a need to provide not only basic literacy instruction and educational services but also a need to provide these services in such a way that will empower the Haitian-Dominicans to deal with the basic social structures that work against them. I would like to proceed by proposing a model which I feel would meet these objectives.Before getting started, I need to mention that there are at least two organizations which are presently working specifically with Haitians in the Dominican Republic and are providing services to these people. Of the two, Christian Reformed World Missions is the only one which offers educational services. At present they have established and are currently supporting thirty-two Christian schools, staffed by a total of seventy-two teachers, and serving three-thousand students from kindergarten through seventh grade. Twenty-five teachers are presently receiving some scholarship assistance to complete their university training in pedagogy. Plans for the schools include expanding the academic offerings through grade twelve, and training local leaders to take over the administration of the schools. In addition to the school program, Christian Reformed World Missions also supports a Creole literacy program for adults.The second organization is the Iglesia Bautista Misionera Haitiana (Haitian Baptist Missionary Church) with whom I worked for two years as a volunteer English teacher. The Haitian Baptist Association is an indigenous group which has two main churches in Santo Domingo and La Romana and supports approximately twenty mission churches in the Bateyes. Through these churches, they currently support a variety of development projects ranging from a primary health care program, a Haitian bakery, and the construction of a clinic.Due to slow and inefficient communication within the Dominican Republic, more detailed information about these programs, especially the Christian Reformed World Mission’s educational programs was not available at the time of this writing. I think, however, that the information I have provided is useful because it makes us aware of some of the development work that is being done among the Haitian-Dominicans and helps in developing a model that will complement rather than duplicate or compete with existing projects.As an outsider, who is neither Haitian nor Dominican, I can not propose a definite solution to the educational needs of the Haitian-Dominicans. This is something that ultimately must come from and be implemented by those who expect to benefit from the program. Thus, the model outlined below intends only to identify some of the issues that need to be addressed and alternatives that might be worth considering in light of current educational strategies. It then attempts to contextualize these theories to the Haitian-Dominican situation.The following model will include three phases of education that could be implemented over time. The first step is starting an adult literacy program, the second is to implement a family literacy project, and the third step would be to focus on developing strong primary and secondary education programs for children. Depending on the amount of time it takes to implement each phase, the total program could be implemented between seven and ten years. There are several reasons why I chose to focus on adult literacy first. Adult literacy tends to be a lot simpler to set up and requires fewer resources than something like a primary or secondary school. Second, adults are the most likely prospective students to be overlooked in more traditional types of programs. And third, adults are the current leaders in the communities and it is important to get them interested in education in order to gain their cooperation in the education of their children.As I discuss this model, I will try to make a distinction between urban and rural culture. Many of the elements of this program can be applied just as effectively in the bateyes as in the cities. But as I pointed out in Part I, the attitudes and level of acculturation vary widely between urban Haitian-Dominicans and their rural counterparts. As such, it will be more effective to take a different approach to education in each of these settings. In these cases I will specify what kinds of approaches will best work in the urban or rural environment.PHASE I – ADULT EDUCATIONLaubach Literacy International defines literacy as: the listening, speaking, reading, writing, and mathematics skills adults and older youth need to solve the problems they encounter in daily life; to take full advantage of opportunities in their environment; and to participate fully in the transformation of their society. (Curtis 1990).This definition seems appropriate for our model because it integrates learning and community change –developing basic skills as well as new attitudes and consciousness. On the basis of this definition, Curtis has recommended that four different areas be emphasized in an adult literacy program: fundamental skills, critical thinking, cultural expression, and individual or community action. I would like to point out that it is not necessary for the different components of this model to be implemented in any particularly order. In fact, it is best to work in collaboration with those who expect to benefit from the literacy program to determine their needs and decide which area or areas should be developed first.The first area, development of fundamental skills, would address a student’s ability to read, write, and do math at a simple level. Planning for this area must take into account many different issues. Where should classes be held? Who will teach them? How will students be recruited? What type of curriculum will be used? These and many other questions must be dealt with before a program can be implemented, and the answers will vary depending on who is setting up the program and who expects to participate in it. The issue, however, that is most important for the purposes of our model would be deciding upon the language of instruction. Should it be Creole? French? Spanish? or a combination of each?Gonzalez (1993) suggests that the home language would be the best medium for initial literacy because the language of ethnicity has the right to be maintained as the language of the home and neighborhood. He does not, however, ignore the importance of learning a country’s national or official language. Ultimately, he explains, one should be literate in a national language, but initially one should be exposed to literacy in the mother tongue. Thus, the key to getting started is finding out what is the mother-tongue of the prospective students. For example, if classes are being offered to Haitians living in the bateyes or newly arrived Haitian immigrants in the cities, Creole would be the language of choice for initial literacy efforts. If classes are being offered, however, to Haitians who have spent the majority of their lives in the city and have been using Spanish since childhood, Spanish may be a better choice for initial literacy instruction. Another thing to consider in the urban areas is that the immediate need is for Spanish literacy because that is the language of business. In this case, Creole is not widely used outside of the home environment.In any case, it is important to remember that while it may be more pedagogically sound to begin literacy instruction in Creole, proficiency in the Spanish is a must in order to fully participate in Dominican society. A society with a minority language must emphasize transitional bilingualism, that is, the use of the mother tongue for schooling while communicative skills are being acquired in the national language (Gonzalez 1993). Thus, we should probably expand our definition of fundamental skills to include not only reading, writing, and math, but also Spanish as a second language. In the case of students who begin their literacy training in Creole, services should be offered in Spanish as a second language to those who have minimal or no oral proficiency in the language. Later, after basic literacy skills have been developed in Creole and basic oral skills have been acquired in Spanish, the program emphasis can shift towards becoming literate in Spanish.The second component of our model, critical thinking, deals with a student’s ability to analyze, interpret, and apply what he reads. The focus here is on the ability to understand meaning as opposed to simply decoding a text. Freire (1987) explains that every human being regardless of “ignorance” is capable of critically analyzing his world in dialogue with others. He can become conscious of his personal and social reality, its contradictions, and deal with them critically.Freire (1973,1987) suggests that literacy education take a dialectic or dialogical approach. According to this approach, the traditional student-teacher relationship must be abolished. The teacher is not an all-knowing person who imparts knowledge but rather a leader who engages students in dialogue –a leader who is himself a student and deepens his learning through dialogue with the students.For example, one would not tell a group of Haitian cane-cutters that they are oppressed and that it is the sugar company who is oppressing them. Rather, one would lead them through a meaningful dialogue in order that they could discover the source of their oppression for themselves. By engaging in meaningful dialogue and critical thinking students will not only “discover” their oppression, they will become better equipped to find a solution. According to Freire, the student must be conscientizado, or made aware of his condition and empowered to deal with it.This approach to literacy, of course, will require program planners to pay special attention to the types of materials and curriculum that are used. Curtis (1990) suggests that a dialogical approach to literacy can be used even at the most basic levels. For example, a beginning lesson might revolve around the instruction of some basic vocabulary words that are relevant to the students’ everyday lives. Words such as caña (sugarcane) and pesador (the man who weighs the cane) might be introduced in the first lesson. After presenting them as sight words, the students might engage in a discussion about the significance of these words. Who is the pesador? What is caña? They might first discuss that they are paid according to the amount of cane they cut, and also that the pesador frequently does not record the correct weight of the sugarcane, thus cheating them out of part of their pay. Later, the words could be broken down into their individual letters and then the sounds could be taught for each of the letters. Of course there are dozens of other activities that could be done, especially as the students become more advanced, but the idea is that students are learning both basic literacy skills and critical thinking skills.The third area of our model is cultural expression. This is important because it allows students to develop self and group esteem (eg: through dance, music, literature, art, etc.) Minority students who have been marginalized by mainstream culture, as is the case of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, often become empowered when given the opportunity to express themselves culturally. There are an endless number of activities which students can engage in both in and out of the classroom which can complement an adult literacy program.In La Romana, I observed that there is already a significant degree of cultural expression taking place through participation in the Haitian Baptist Church. Many of the church services are conducted in Creole, including both preaching and music. Frequently there are guest speakers and musical groups from Haiti who come to participate in special activities. Several of the celebrations held in the church are unique to Haitian and African Christianity. And there is even a group of young people who perform Dominican merengue-style worship music while singing lyrics written in Haitian Creole, thus having created a style of music unique their own Haitian-Dominican subculture. These kinds of activities are an excellent outlet for cultural expression and would certainly compliment any adult literacy program that might emerge in the future.Another outlet for cultural expression that would be important to pursue is the development of written literature in both the Creole and Spanish languages. Gonzalez (1993) explains that the development of appropriate teaching and reading materials in the target language is necessary to insure literacy maintenance and that such materials should be available both in and out of school. As I already mentioned in Part I, the Creole language contains very little written literature and only recently has become a written language. Thus, the development of written materials would be a major priority both for use in the classroom and to reinforce literacy skills outside of the classroom. Students might be encouraged to contribute to the development of written material by writing about their life experiences, writing down children’s stories or folk tales that they remember from growing up in Haiti or the bateyes, or even making their own attempts at creative writing. Teachers or more advanced students might be interested in translating materials from Spanish or French to Creole such as Sunday school materials, public health information, Haitian history and culture, or other information that would be of general reading interest. Of course, encouraging students to write about their life experiences in Spanish or putting together a Spanish anthology of Haitian folk tales would be a way of promoting cultural understanding among the mainstream Dominican culture.Finally, the last component of our model will emphasize individual or community action, that is, putting into practice what one has learned. Learning how to read, engaging in critical dialogue, or developing a sense of pride in ones cultural heritage is of little use if students do not eventually use what they have learned to better their situation in Dominican society. This, of course, is where literacy becomes a jumping off point for community development projects and social action.Freire (1987) explains that the act of reading is not simply consist of decoding the written word, rather it is an activity that is intimately connected with one’s knowledge of the world. It is an activity that requires that one see the relationship between “text and context” or what is being read and reality. Adult literacy and post-literacy, according to Freire, needs to be at the service of a people’s development and help them to take history into their own hands as opposed to just being represented in it. Literacy education does not need to be independent of development work, rather, the two should enhance each other. “As people gain greater mastery over the language of their lives, they require greater capacity and confidence to initiate and maintain needed community and individual change.”The members of the Haitian Baptist Churches are already supporting a number of development projects that are helping better the situation of their people in the Dominican Republic. One of these projects is a Haitian Bakery. In addition to creating employment, the Haitian Bakery reinforces cultural identity as it engages in the production and sale of a Haitian product which is sold to Dominicans and Haitians alike. More importantly, the profits from this bakery go to support the operation of Fuente de Vida, an indigenous public health care program which provides services to Haitians living in the bateyes.The church also is in the process of building a clinic in the city of La Romana, which is expected to serve both rural and urban Haitian-Dominicans. As part of the clinic project, a number of young people in the church are receiving scholarships in cooperation with churches in the United States to enable them to complete medical training, after which they will be qualified to work with both the clinic and the public health program.Literacy efforts can complement and enhance the development projects that are already taking place. In fact, good literacy skills will eventually enable Haitian-Dominicans to expand their efforts in development work, maintain indigenous leadership in existing projects, duplicate successful projects in communities that are not presently being served by a development project, and create totally new and innovative projects as they identify other needs among their people.PHASE II – FAMILY LITERACYOnce the adult literacy program is set up and well established, it would be good to incorporate some activities into the program that take into account the educational needs of children. There are two reasons for this. First, providing education to children will prevent adult illiteracy in the future. And second, children will be more successful in school if their parents take an interest in their education.Adding a family literacy component to the program need not be anything elaborate or complicated. One approach might be to hold classes or tutoring sessions for children while their parents are taking literacy classes. Such sessions might range from helping kids with their homework from school or offering enrichment courses in Creole language and Haitian culture. Since bilingual education is not offered in the Dominican school system, nor is special help offered to students with limited Spanish proficiency, such classes would be a good opportunity to help Haitian-Dominican children keep up with their regular classes or to learn about their own language and culture.A second aspect of family literacy that might be emphasized would be educating parents about how they can help their children be successful in school. This could be incorporated into regular classes or perhaps it could be addressed in a special workshop. In this way, parents could discuss things like the importance of reading to their children, helping them with their school work, and so forth. Perhaps some parents might even want to try writing children’s stories, which could then be collected and printed in an anthology.PHASE III – PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATIONA long term project that some Haitian communities might be interested in doing would be to set up a bilingual colegio that would educate their children in both Spanish and Creole. Since private church sponsored colegios are a popular alternative to public education in many Latin American countries, including the Dominican Republic, this might be an option that some Haitian churches might be interested in exploring further.Something to keep in mind when setting up a bilingual education program in the Dominican Republic is that the public department of education requires that the language of instruction be limited to one. For example, if Creole were the language of instruction, then Spanish could be taught only as a subject area or vice versa. It would not be possible to give classes in 50% Spanish and 50% Creole or work towards gradually mainstreaming students from one language to the other. This regulation limits the flexibility that a group would have in setting up the curriculum for a bilingual school.My suggestion would be to use Spanish as the language of instruction and teach Creole as a subject area. Since Spanish is the language that is needed to function in Dominican society, it is important that schooling is completed in Spanish. Also, there are probably very few if any textbooks that actually exist in Creole, thus making it an unlikely choice as the medium of instruction. I would suggest, however, that sheltered Spanish classes be set up to accommodate students of limited Spanish proficiency. A sheltered class would be a regular subject class (eg: social studies, science, etc) that is taught using Spanish as a second language (SSL) methodology. Also, it would be a good idea to offer an SSL conversation course for children of recent Haitian immigrants. The idea is that, even though the students’ mother tongue is not the language of instruction, Spanish language instruction will be carried out in such a way that it will accommodate the needs of students with limited Spanish proficiency. Furthermore, Creole language and Haitian culture and history will be emphasized throughout a child’s schooling.There are, of course, many other issues besides language that must be considered when setting up a colegio. Recruitment and training of teachers would be difficult, especially finding candidates who have actually completed university level teacher training and are fully fluent in both Spanish and Creole. In addition, teachers would have to be trained in second language acquisition methodology and bilingual education, things that they are not likely to be exposed to in their university training. Curriculum is another issue that would have to be addressed. It would be necessary to locally produce materials that covered topics such as Creole language, Haitian history and culture, and also materials that cover the regular subject areas but incorporate SSL methodology.Last, but not least, funding for such a project must be taken into account as well. Private colegios are generally not cheap, and Haitian-Dominicans are those who are least likely to be able to afford private education, or for that matter, even the costs (books, uniforms, and school supplies) that are associated with public education. Perhaps income generated from a small business (such as the Haitian Bakery mentioned earlier) could be used to subsidize the costs of a school.In any case, it is clear that the time, effort, and costs involved in setting up a colegio make this a project that would require a lot of careful planning and something that is best left until after the first two phases are well underway. And while a colegio would definitely offer a number of educational options and advantages that would not be available through the family literacy program, some communities may decide that a colegio is not the best kind of project for them due to the expense and effort involved. Many communities may decide that they can effectively educate their children by supplementing public schooling with a family literacy program. Again, the idea is that each community will decide what type of program is best for them and then proceed accordingly.CONCLUSIONSLiteracy is meaningful to the degree that it is viewed as a tool which can empower or disempower people. It is evaluated in terms of whether or not it reenforces existing social structures or promotes social change (Freire 1987). Effective literacy programs are judged by two criteria. First, is the program based on the goals that come from the students? Second, are learners experiencing success due to instruction that moves them closer to their goals? (Curtis 1990). In this report, we have looked at the unique situation of the Haitians in the Dominican Republic and we have had the opportunity to look at an educational model which I believe is capable of empowering the Haitian-Dominicans and promoting social changes in their favor.The main thing that I would like to emphasize is that the model I have proposed is simply that, a model. Based on my own experiences of having lived and worked for two years with the Haitian-Dominican people and the background information that I have presented about their situation, I believe that the model I have proposed can be an effective tool to both educate and empower the Haitian-Dominican people. However, it is important to remember that this or any other model can be successful only if it is developed and worked out in collaboration with the people who expect to benefit from it rather than developed for them. Thus, I present this model not as a solution, but as a point of reference with which to begin a dialogue –a dialogue through which I hope the Haitian-Dominican people are able to develop their own model, a model that is based upon their own goals, and a model that will enable them to move closer to those goals, and eventually, to take control of their future, and participate fully in Dominican society.BIBLIOGRAPHYAnonymous (1994) Christian School Program. Dominican Republic 3-Year Plan. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Christian Reformed World Missions, pp.10-13._____. (1995) Dominican Republic. World Missions Country Profiles. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Reformed World Missions.Bell, Ian (1981) The Dominican Republic. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Cockroft, James D. (1989) Neighbors in Turmoil: Latin America. New York: Harper and Row.Curtis, Lynn R. (1990) Literacy for Social Change. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press.Didiez, Dr. Nelson (1984) Manual Breve de Lengua Creol (Brief Manual of the Creole Language). Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Editora Taller.Freire, Paulo (1973) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Seabury Press.Freire, Paulo (1987) Literacy: Reading the Word and the World. MA: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc.Gillette, Arthur (1972) Youth and Literacy: You’ve Got a Ticket to Ride. New York: UNESCO.Gonzalez, Andrew (1993) An Overview of Language and Development. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. (14) 1&2, 5-23.Long, Tim and Patti (1991) Untitled International Mission News. Valley Forge, PA: American Baptist International Ministries. Newsletter #34._____. (1992) Untitled International Mission News. Valley Forge, PA: American Baptist International Ministries. Newsletter #37._____. (1992) Untitled International Mission News. Valley Forge, PA: American Baptist International Ministries. Newsletter #38.Pariser, Harry S. (1993) Adventure Guide to the Dominican Republic. Edison, NJ: Hunter Publishing, Inc.Note: This report was first published in the Journal of Haitian Ministry.

Related Articles


Comments are closed.

Latest Articles