The Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 (PDEF in French) retains the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) definition of inclusion (2009) and adopts "an inclusive perspective that takes into account, in particular, the special needs of persons in vulnerable situations." According to the minister interviewed in 2017, "the fundamental objective is to establish school for all, without exception, allowing all children in Haiti to have the same opportunities and access to the highest levels of Haitian society through knowledge, because we can’t talk about a quality school for all if it is not inclusive and does not take into account the rights of minorities and people with special needs."
Special educational needs
The "special needs of people in vulnerable situations", namely out-of-school children, children in domestic service, children with learning difficulties and children with disabilities, are often spoken about. In 2019, the country planned to adopt a policy with an inclusive approach to support children with special needs. In addition, the Operational Plan 2010–2015, in dealing with special education, refers to children living with a disability.
Special education is a very important link in the chain of the mainstream education system. It is primarily intended to serve children and young people with multiple disabilities or learning disabilities and is largely provided by the private sector. There are only 23 schools for children with disabilities, three of which are public (mainly in Port-au-Prince). The strategies envisaged by the Government are to make the physical school environment accessible and suitable for children with special needs and to create the conditions necessary for their learning and intellectual development.
According to the 1987 Constitution, education is a universal fundamental right, regardless of religious affiliation or social and economic background.
The Act on the integration of persons with disabilities was passed in 2012. Since then, special service providers for persons with reduced mobility have been granted tax privileges (articles 19 and 40). In 2019, the country planned to adopt a policy with an inclusive approach to support children with special needs. With regard to policies and action plans, there is no policy at the national or provincial level regarding the inclusion or integration of students with special needs in mainstream classes. The Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 aspires to address the special educational needs of vulnerable children and improve the quality of educational provision, in particular through scholarships, curricula review, teacher certification and training, and access to materials. Various activities will be implemented by 2027, including the introduction of an inclusive policy for the care for children with special needs (from year 2 of the plan), an information and awareness-raising campaign on the inclusive approach (year 3), and the establishment of a list of all children whose schooling will be financed by the State, with particular attention given to children with special needs (year 3). The country aims for 30 per cent of schools and educational and training establishments to cater for children and persons with special needs by 2028. Nevertheless, 10 new specialized schools will be established and 100 per cent of existing specialized schools will be strengthened. Indeed, Haiti wishes to "strengthen the governance of special education." Finally, it should be noted that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour document, Pour une scolarisation massive des personnes handicapées [For the Mass Education of Persons with Disabilities] (undated) refers to integration rather than inclusion. This plan aims to ensure that all learners receive a quality education within the mainstream education system, while developing a network of special schools within it. Various measures will be taken, including a survey to identify children with disabilities by geographical area, teacher training, a national campaign to raise awareness of the rights of these learners, the identification of one or two national public schools per municipality that are capable of accommodating children with disabilities and the opening of special classes in national public schools.
The Ministry of Education, the Office of the Secretary of State for Vocational Training, and the National Vocational Training Institute intervention programmes 1–6 will be introduced in the second year of the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027. These programmes will seek to ensure equal access to vocational training for all and will make it possible to put in place a policy of incentives to attract young women and girls to traditionally male fields of study, and vice versa for young men. However, there is no policy for the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities. That said, the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 provides for the introduction of sex education in new training programmes, in basic education and in core classes as a way of preventing early pregnancy and violence. It also plans to adopt a gender focus in education laws.
Ethnicity and languages
The Constitution states that the Haitian Creole language should have a privileged place in education. The teaching of Creole in Haiti has its legal foundation in the Act of 18 September 1979. This act authorizes the use of Creole as a written and spoken language in education. However, since 1979, the State has not adopted any law to establish the two official languages in either the schools or universities of the Republic. Before 1979, primary education in Haiti was exclusively in French, while 80 per cent of the population was monolingual in Creole. No specific section of the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027covers this matter of language in education. It should be noted, however, that Creole literacy programmes are raising the profile of the language among rural Haitian populations. Other non-governmental organization (NGO) initiatives, such as Lecture en créole et en français [Reading in Creole and French] and Lekti se lavni/Lire c'est l'avenir [Reading is the Future], promote the inclusion of Haitian Creole speakers in school.
The Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 aims for children to attend school as close to their parents’ homes as possible so that they do not have to walk for more than 30 minutes to get there. To this end, this plan provides that the one-teacher school model shall be piloted and established in remote areas. The size of these schools is set at a maximum of 50 students. In the same context, the company Dignité [Dignity] guarantees free school transportation in the country. In 2017, it had 280 buses in the country’s 10 departments. This company wishes to make its service available throughout many other municipalities.
The various attempts at reform have all focused on compulsory and free education. However, there does not appear to be an inclusion policy for disadvantaged students. The private sector provides a large proportion of schooling, with the costs of education mostly borne by families(even the poorest). That said, the National School Feeding Programme aims to extend health and nutrition services to a greater number of primary school students. Public schools in marginal areas, municipal schools and non-public schools serving disadvantaged students will be targeted in particular. The World Bank, along with other partners, is supporting several projects aimed at improving opportunities for all. For example, textbooks and school kits have been distributed to more than 23,000 children in the Grand Sud region of Haiti, and 9,500 students received grants for schooling in 43 non-public schools in the Sud, Grand'Anse, Sud-Est and Nippes departments.
The Constitution states that the State shall guarantee gifted children the means to ensure their autonomy, education and independence. However, few programmes seem to address these learners directly.
The Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 aspires to establish a "decentralized system of governance of the inclusive approach" and to strengthen the governance of special education (appropriate legal and regulatory framework; accreditation, supervision and monitoring system; adequate resources; and coordinating special education with all levels of education). To this end, the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 implementation process provides for interaction between the various bodies.
At the national level, the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP) is responsible for implementing the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 programme, while the Commission for School Adaptation and Social Support (CASAS) ensures that all young persons with disabilities are enrolled and integrated in the school system. The Office of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities (BSEIPH) oversees the implementation of public policies for integrating persons with disabilities in all areas of national life, including education.
Other organizations work in collaboration with these bodies, including the Haitian Aid Society for the Blind (SHAA), which is primarily active in the area of advocacy, to influence public policy. The French National Higher Institute for Training and Research on Special Needs Education (INSHEA) is collaborating with the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training to implement the actions planned for special education in the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027. It oversees the master's programme in inclusive practices, disability, accessibility and support.
Despite this collaborative work, interactions between these bodies are still limited. Therefore, a supervisory unit comprising the Commission for School Adaptation and Social Support, the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training and the Office of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities, and a management and implementation unit for the special education programme comprising this commission and ministry, should be formed.
The Programme of Priority Interventions in Education (PIPE) 2013–2016 aimed to strengthen special education and provide mass education for persons with disabilities. More than USD 4 million were invested over three years to: equip the Commission for School Adaptation and Social Support with the necessary human and material resources, train 50 teachers per department, develop special education training modules and integrate them into initial teacher training programmes, develop teaching materials adapted for the various educational needs and set up a database on the various children and young persons with disabilities. That said, it is difficult to determine whether all of these measures were implemented as part of the Programme of Priority Interventions in Education and, if so, to assess the impact of these implementations.
However, the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 aims to strengthen the governance of special education. By 2027, special education will have an appropriate legal and regulatory framework and a system of accreditation, supervision and monitoring will be in place. It is difficult, however, to identify the measures that have been implemented to date.
The Information and Communication Technologies in Education Unit (UTICE) is a cross-cutting organization of the ministry responsible for facilitating the integration of technology in schools. It distributes digital equipment to children with disabilities, for example.
There is no module on inclusive education (or special education) in the training curriculum of universities and or teacher training college. However, the mental health component of the National Health Policy (2014) aims to revise the curricula of teacher training colleges to facilitate the early detection of mental, cognitive and behavioural disorders (priority areas and strategies for action). In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour's action plan titled Pour une scolarisation massive des personnes handicapées [For the Mass Education of Persons with Disabilities] includes special education modules and seminars for in-service teachers. This plan provides that centres for training, producing teaching materials and learning about new technologies will be built (one centre per department). For its part, the Commission for School Adaptation and Social Support is developing an inclusive education manual for teacher training at advanced teacher training colleges.
There are quite a few teachers in the private sectors who have not completed the baccalauréat [high school diploma] or received any professional training (let alone training on inclusion). In this sector, training on inclusive education should be provided by school principals, education agencies (Haitian Foundation for Private Education – FONHEP) or by teachers' unions.
The country does not have a national monitoring report on education and there are few established indicators to measure inclusive education. However, in the Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027, the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training identifies certain targets to ensure access and retention in school for students in vulnerable situations with special educational needs:
Thirty per cent of educational and training establishments and schools to cater for children and people living with disabilities.
A thousand children and young people to receive a scholarship from the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training to go to school.
The inclusive approach is popularized and promoted in the Haitian education system throughout the country.
Other targets refer to the objective of improving the quality of educational provision and the development of children and young persons with disabilities. The Ten-Year Education and Training Plan 2017–2027 aspires for 100 per cent of teachers and trainers to be certified by the ministry and provided with further training by 2027. Finally, it aims for 100 per cent of schools to have adapted curricula and suitable equipment and materials.