One of the first articles that I published was called “Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth.” It was a paper that came directly from my dissertation, and in it I explore whether the level of education at the time of independence can help explain the development gap between former British and French colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa. I found that the British had a totally different philosophy of education than the French. The British tended to have women from the local community (often without a lot of education themselves) teach children in their native language. The French, on the other hand, had a more elitist vision of education, where a select few were sent to boarding school to eventually form part of the colonial government. All instruction was in French.
Apparently, Haiti has tried several times in the past 50 years to move more towards creole in schools rather than French. All of those reforms failed, but a recent article called “How Science, Math and Creole Education Can Lead to Prosperity in Haiti” discusses an interesting new collaboration between MIT Linguistics Professor Michael DeGraff and the Haitian government. DeGraff received an NSF grant to try to “promote the use of Creole via technology in Haiti’s school system.” Here is a link to DeGraff’s work on the topic. I haven’t read his work yet but it looks fascinating. Here’s hoping that this reform works better than the previous ones!
h/t Tate Watkins (@tatewatkins), a great person to follow on Twitter if you are interested in Haiti.