This is a public policy matter, and I do expect many to disagree with me. Public education in Haiti needs a total reshuffling; it must be incorporated in a comprehensive plan to reform our economy. We cannot be talking about reforming the economy if we do not address the problems with our education.
We need a new system of education to prepare our kids to compete for the jobs of tomorrow at home and abroad.
Public education is a total failure in Haiti, and things will not get better if we do not change course. We need to take government out of the business of educating our kids and let the private sector take over.
Is Haiti a socialist or a capitalist state? Maybe we need to be clear on the type of economic system we have and the type we really need for Haiti. I am a big proponent of capitalism, for it does make sense to me. Maybe that’s what we need for Haiti. Right now, whether you want to agree with me or not, we have a socialist state; government controls almost everything.
Before we get further in this, let’s take a moment to explain what the job of government should be in a capitalistic economy.
The role of government in a capitalistic economy is NOT to create jobs and compete against the private sector. It is, rather, to enact policies that would encourage private sector jobs. It should work to strengthen the private sector, and the two must work hand in hand to get things to work for the betterment of our society. So needless to say, we need a strong private sector.
In Haiti, government is the biggest competitor we have in the market, preventing the economy from expanding because it stalls competition. It should not be this way. Government is not to compete against the private sector. It is to set the path for the private sector to walk on.
I propose the elimination of all the public schools or state-funded institutions of learning and let the private sector take over them. As we have them right now, they are ineffective and represent a symbol of failure because of a lack of competition within the sector of government. We need to get rid of that.
Government should not be in the business of opening schools. It needs to allow the economically disfavored students to attend private schools or the school of their choosing by making grants and scholarships available to them. Doing so will create a market of schools for them to choose from. Giving them the ability to choose the school of their liking will empower them, and that will fuel the competition needed to get the system to work.
If competition is the engine that gets the economy to move, choice is the ignition that gets it to crank up. When government gets in the game, competition is stalled; the economy automatically stops expanding. On the other hand, when you have the players in the private sector competing against one another, it is good for competition in that it results in quality production or quality education for the students. In such a competitive climate, only the best schools will stand. The subpar or mediocre ones will have to close their doors because they won’t be able to sustain the competitive wave. That’s the phenomenon of the “invisible hand” Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism, talked about in his masterpiece entitled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
In conclusion, we need to revamp the system of education in Haiti by allowing the private sector to assume its total control. The government should not be in the business of opening and managing schools. It should be there to subvention the economically disadvantaged students by providing them with grants and scholarships to attend the school of their choosing. Such a strategy will automatically fuel competition within the system, which, in turn, will produce the best educated kids to contribute in the economic and social development of their society.