If a Nobel Prize were any indication of the intellectual well being of a nation, Haiti — aside from its literature — would have very little to offer. With so many heroes, rites, social and political chaos in our history, it’s only fitting that young minds tend to unfetter their imagination through writing. We’re generally good with words. Whether it’s the everlasting soccer squabbles in every other street corner, the daily dose of nonsense from our politicians on the radio or the genius of Frankétienne, Heck! We’re damn good with words. As of today, literature is the sole worthy representation of our education as a nation. I will celebrate when Frankétienne gets nominated for a Nobel Prize because he represents Haiti, its culture and people. I could care less about Mia Love, Michaëlle Jean and others.
It’s the new trend these days. Whenever someone of Haitian descent reaches prestigious heights in their professional career, we Haitians feel the need to celebrate as if our country accomplished something. But what exactly are we celebrating? Should we be proud of Haitians abandoning their citizenship in droves in order to become successful? I don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong; being an elected representative or the new head of OIF (Organisation International de la Francophonie) is one hell of a personal achievement. Yet, it’s just that, a personal, remote feat. Michaëlle Jean, Mia Love and others, regardless of their origin, are just a fallacious representation of Haiti’s intelligentsia, outliers in a broken system. Haiti has only contributed one thing to their resume and it’s the usual and forever compelling sentence:
“Daughter or son of Haitian refugees, came to the US/Canada after…. [Insert in there something about overcoming hardships blah blah blah], and you know the deal!”
Whether we want to admit or not, that’s all these people will ever showcase in relation to Haiti.
What good are remarkable engineers, lawyers and doctors if we still can’t provide basic needs like healthcare and electricity to our own? What good of a role model is a Haitian American senator if the average Haitian teenager will never attend the same kind of universities or be offered the same opportunities in his or her home country? What good is education if no one has really gone beyond the joy of collecting paychecks to build a legacy significant enough to bequeath to future generations? Higher education for us, unfortunately, is just another way out of personal struggle, isolated poverty.
As a people, we can’t just be a collection of personal achievements. That’s why Dominican Republic is ahead of us. They have every right to be proud of their Major League Baseball Stars because they created them. It’s a national movement. They get it. Higher Education is like a flower. It has a stem – the science, the technology, engineering and math disciplines; it also has a blossom and that blossom is the humanities – arts, social sciences, literature, sports – which the stem exists to support. We can’t simply rely on just one petal. I have yet to read a scientific paper with a cited Haitian researcher from a Haitian University. Why does it matter? It matters because research in science is empirical and systemic. It shapes nations according to their imagination. It’s the foundation of development programs and policies all over the world. So more than anything, we need creators, inventors, role models made in Haiti.
Most of our professionals still struggle to reach their full potential; it’s the failure of our country as a whole. We need more laboratories, modern universities with STEM majors because that’s where pretty much everything else comes from. Forget about free education, quality education matters more. Until we start producing researchers, experts in science on a consistent basis, poverty will always be our main qualifier. If you need a high IQ soccer player, you’ll most likely go to Brazil. You’ll probably go to Cuba for a good doctor. Some of the world’s best
Marc Evenst Jn Jacques