The school system in Haiti is one of the weakest in the
world, and a large part of the population cannot fulfill the
right to education. 59 percent of the population lives below
the poverty line, and the country is characterized by
unstable governance and economic challenges, as well as
social and political turmoil that greatly affects access to
38.3 percent of the population over the age of 15 are
illiterate (UNESCO, 2015). In the 15-24 year age group,
almost 83 percent are literate (UNESCO, 2015).
Education is highly valued among the population. The
right to free public education for all is enshrined in
Haiti's constitution. It is the National Ministry of
Education that is responsible for the public education
program in Haiti. Several former leaders and authorities in
Haiti have had stated goals and policy proposals to improve
the country's education system. The authorities have not
been able to fulfill this obligation to their citizens. They
have underfunded education in their national budgets for a
number of years and depend on development assistance.
As a result, the school system in Haiti is heavily
privatized and dominated by non-governmental providers of
education that have largely eradicated the public offering.
Religious, private and non-governmental organizations
account for between 80 and 90 percent of the education
provision in the country's approximately 15,000 elementary
schools. These enroll more than 80 percent of students. A
large proportion of the private players demand school fees
despite the constitutional right to free education. On
average, it costs $ 80 in school fees for one student per
year, excluding school books, uniforms and transportation.
This makes education unavailable to most people. The
Ministry of Education is responsible for regulating the
entire educational program, including the private providers. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Haiti.
The big earthquake in 2010 contributed to a further
weakening of the education system in the country. The
earthquake led to major destruction of infrastructure and
school buildings. It is estimated that 85 per cent of
schools in affected areas were destroyed or closed over a
long period of time. According to the Department of
Education in Haiti, the earthquake caused about 5,000
schools, 23 percent, to be destroyed, causing about 2.9
million children to be prevented from schooling. Thousands
of public servants and teachers lost their lives, and
between 50 and 90 percent of students and students were
internally displaced. In posterity, many parents faced great
challenges in paying for their children's education. There
has been a tremendous need for external assistance, and the
country relies on assistance to rebuild. At the same time,
Haiti has been characterized by internal political power
struggles in the post-earthquake period.
As a language of teaching, French has long been the
dominant language and is still the language that dominates.
Creole, which is the language the majority of the population
speaks for, has gradually won its entrance. It is estimated
that less than 10 percent of the population speaks French.
There are two parallel school systems in Haiti: the
traditional, based on the French system, and the reformed
schools. In the traditional system, elementary school is
6-years old, followed by 7-year high school. In the reformed
schools, the elementary school is 9-years old and high
school 3-year-olds. Officially, there is 6 years of
compulsory schooling, from children 6 to 11 years.
Although the right to free public elementary schooling is
enacted, the lack of public schools means that many have to
pay school fees to gain access to education. The proportion
of school fees has increased significantly over the last
decades, which represents a major financial burden on
households. This is considered to be one of the major
barriers to access to education in Haiti.
Statistics are deficient, but it is estimated that about
60 per cent of children are enrolled in school. Over half of
the students do not complete, and a small number continue to
high school. To enter high school, students must take an
entrance exam. It is estimated that only 2 per cent make up
this for further education, but these entrance exams vary
according to the different school systems. Between 70 and 80
per cent of those who go to upper secondary education choose
private schools where they have to pay school fees.
There are major geographical differences between city and
country. The population living in rural areas has lower
education than those living in urban areas. Education is
centralized, with about 80 per cent in the cities, despite
several attempts by the authorities to decentralize. Another
challenge to ensure good quality education is the huge
proportion of unskilled and unskilled teachers. It is
estimated that about 80 per cent of primary school teachers
are not educated.
Vocational education is offered at various levels after
completing primary school. There are a number of different
programs, and the majority are run by private players. Most
programs have a duration of 3 or 4 years. A majority of the
programs provide training in practical occupations and
housework. Several of the programs are also offered to
There are a number of private and public universities and
higher education institutions in Haiti. There are few public
universities, and The State University of Haiti in
Port-Au-Prince is the largest state university in the
country. Given the access to education in general in Haiti,
a very low proportion of the population takes higher
education. The statistics are deficient, but it is estimated
that less than 1 per cent of young people are enrolled in
higher education. Most students rely on scholarships or
other financial support provided by religious or charitable
organizations to take a higher education and pay school
fees. It is also a challenge that most people who succeed in
taking higher education move out of the country.
Higher educational institutions were particularly hard
hit by the earthquake in 2010, with 87 per cent of the
institutions suffering major destruction or leveling with
In recent years, there has been a strong growth in the
number of higher education institutions, and a large
majority of these are located in Port-au-Prince. It is
estimated that there are just over 200, and that only a
quarter of these are officially approved and accredited by
the Ministry of Education in Haiti.