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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies; Language, Literacy, & Culture

First Advisor

Margaret L. Gebhard

Second Advisor

Laura Valdiviezo

Third Advisor

Patrick Mensah

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Educational Psychology | Educational Sociology | Education Policy


The purpose of this study is to investigate historical and linguistic forces that interact to undermine school achievement in Haiti. From a sociocultural perspective, this study explores the social, political, and historical forces that mediate language ideology and practices in Haitian schools and how such ideology and practices influence students' academic achievement. This study analyzes the role of French and Creole in schools and investigates the linguistic tensions in the Haitian society where Creole, the home language of both students and teachers and the only language broadly used in the country, is relegated to secondary importance in education and other institutional settings. The study relies on ethnographic data collected in a third grade, a fourth grade, a fifth grade, and a sixth grade classroom in a private and a public school in a semi-urban area around the capital city of Haiti as well as data collected in different sectors of the society (e.g. state and private institutions). Building upon the literature regarding classroom discourses and the literature on sociocultural theory, coloniality, language ideology, and symbolic domination, this study problematizes language and educational practices in Haiti and offers recommendations for rebuilding Haiti's educational system in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of January 12 th 2010. Given the role of students' home language in their instruction, this study argues that any effort aiming the revitalization of the school system in Haiti needs to take into consideration issues related to language in the education system.