Title

A Study of Primary Schools in the Elias Piña Province on the Dominican Haitian Border: Immigrant Haitian Access to Education in the Dominican Republic in the 2010 Post-Earthquake Era

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

The research question of the study asked "In the post 2010 earthquake, what are the conditions faced by Haitian immigrants in accessing primary public education in the Dominican Republic"? Within the context of primary education, the study takes place in the town of Comendador, the capital of the Elías Piña province in the Dominican Republic. Using a mixed methods approach, incorporating ethnographic methods and database analysis, the study documents the voices of Haitian and Dominican parents, Dominican school personnel, non-governmental organization (NGO) officials and community stakeholders. Within the construct of access, there are six areas of focus: educational policy, curriculum and instruction, professional development and resources, parent involvement, intercultural communications, and praxis. Data collection tools included field notes, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, analysis of the Latin American Opinion Project (LAPOP), and analysis of a household composition database.

The findings of the study indicate six themes: (1) educational policy, Dominican law provides Haitian children with school registration, yet school officials are allowed the flexibility of adherence; (2) curriculum and instruction, using a national curriculum, teachers are not providing a comprehensible education to Haitian students; (3) professional development and resources, teachers recognized the need to make instruction meaningful for Haitian students; (4) parent involvement, undocumented Haitian parents did not feel safe at school sites; (5) intercultural communications (ICC), educators' behaviors towards Haitian immigrant children and parents demonstrated empathy, yet lacked more advanced levels of ICC and, (6) praxis, there was an absence of advocates for Haitian.

In the case of stakeholders and educators in Elías Piña the study suggests that, for the most part, few had the experience and background to understand the complexity of Haitian immigrant students and families who expressed living in fear of the authorities, suspicion of who to trust, and despair with regards to living day to day. While education for their children was seen as a positive need for survival in the Dominican Republic, Haitians' lack of understanding of the Dominican educational system leads to the perception that Haitian immigrant parents were not engaged in the education of their children.