THE CONTRIBUTION OF MAURICE DARTIGUE
IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION IN HAITI, THE
UNITED NATIONS, AND UNESCO.
E R DA
RT i ii Ui
Born in Haiti in 1903, Jean Joseph
Maurice Dartigue devoted his life to
serving the less privileged in his na-
tive land and in the developing na-
tions of South America and Africa.
First as the Director of Rural Educa-
tion and later as the Minister of Agri-
culture and Labor, Dartigue made his
mark in Haiti. Due to changes in gov-
ernment, he left Haiti in 1946 and
joined the fledgling United Nations,
where he rose to become Senior Spe-
cialist in Education in the Trusteeship
Division. In 1956, he transferred to
UNESCO and in the Congo Crisis in
1960, was the first Chief of Mission to
be sent there. In 1962, he was the first
chief of the newly created African
Desk and welcomed the first profes-
sionals from the freed African coun-
tries. In all those years Dartigue was
too busy "doing" to record his pio-
neering work for the Third World
states. With the publication of An Out-
standing Haitian, Maurice Dartigue, by
his widow, Esther Dartigue, an over-
due tribute is paid to a man who was
instrumental in adapting education to
meet the aspirations of the develop-
Vantage Press, Inc.
516 West 34th St., New York, N.Y. 10001
An Outstanding Haitian,
An Outstanding Haitian,
The Contribution of Maurice Dartigue in
the Field of Education in Haiti, the United
Nations, and UNESCO
All rights reserved, including the right of
reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Copyright 1994 by Esther Dartigue
Published by Vantage Press, Inc.
516 West 34th Street, New York, New York 10001
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 93-93972
To our son, John.
The Formative Years 1
Director of Rural Education, 1931-41 7
Minister of Public Instruction 38
Minister of Agriculture and Labor, SHADA (Societ6
Haitiano-Americaine du D6veloppement de L'Agriculture) 71
Departure from Haiti and the Ten Years at the United Nations 100
The First Years at UNESCO, June 1956-August 1960 118
The Congo Crisis and the UNESCO Emergency Program, August
Return to the Congo in January 1961 177
At Headquarters in the Fall of 1961 204
The Creation of the African Division, 1962: The Emergency
Program for the Newly Independent States of Africa 222
The African Division, 1963: The Creation of the Regional Group for
Educational Planning in Dakar, Senegal 262
The Regional Group for Educational Planning, Dakar, Senegal,
1964 and 1965 289
Expert in Burundi, 1966-68 310
The Last Missions-the Final Years 324
Maurice Dartigue Through the Eyes of His Peers 331
Glossary of Acronyms 333
Maurice Dartigue was the most enlightened minister of education Haiti has
ever had. He was the only one with training and experience in the field, first
as student, then as teacher, and later as director of rural education for ten
years, before being appointed to the high office of minister of education by
the president-elect, Elie Lescot, in May 1941. It is for these reasons Dartigue
was able to carry out the extensive reforms that he thought essential for the
social amelioration and national and racial rehabilitation of his disadvan-
In reference to these reforms, Charles Tardieu Dehoux in his book
L'Education en Haiti states: "He was an upright and efficient administrator
as well as an outstanding manager of human and material resources."
As minister, Dartigue held two other portfolios, that of agriculture and
that of labor. Although education was his specialty, he had had training and
experience in agriculture while a student and a graduate of the School of
Agriculture and the Normal School at Damien. He was minister during the
war years 1941-46. As such he was one of the three Haitian board members
(the three others being Americans) of the Soci6t6 Haitiano-Americaine pour
le Developpement Agricole (SHADA), which was created to promote the
welfare of the peasants in agriculture. However, due to the war, SHADA
concentrated on putting thousands of acres of land into growing rubber for
the war effort. This was not successful but devastated the lands and homes
of the peasants. Dartigue defended the interests of his country when the
American Rubber Corporation denied proper compensation for the lands
The Lescot government fell in January 1946. Dartigue left the country.
He was fortunate in finding a modest opening for the first UN General
Assembly in New York in the fall of 1946. He rose to become senior
specialist in education in the Trusteeship Department, which dealt with
information and studies concerning trusteeships and non-self-governing
Seconded to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and
Cultural Organization) he distinguished himself in the manner in which he
carried out missions and assignments as well as administering the division
with its four units. It was the Congo crisis in July 1960 that was Dartigue's
greatest challenge since he left Haiti. Here, as the first chief of the UNESCO
Emergency Program, he showed his mettle. Amid insecurity and warring
factions, surmounting difficulties of various kinds, he, with a very small
team, not only kept the educational system afloat, but laid down the basis
upon which the action of UNESCO would be built by those who followed
him. He also was part of the consultative group set up to advise the chief of
the Civil Operations in the Congo (ONUC). It was later considered that this
activity was of more importance than the actual carrying out of the program.
On his return from this unusual mission, Dartigue's status was put into
question as power politics came into play. When that was settled, he was
given the task of creating the African Division, which came into being to
come to the aid of the newly independent nations. He was its first chief. It
was under his leadership that the first professionals from the freed African
states made their entry into UNESCO.
During his whole career, in his quiet way, Dartigue tried to oppose
racial discrimination and power politics where and when he could. He
inspired and motivated those who worked with him or under his guidance
to give the best of themselves in the common endeavor.
This book came about because, on looking through his private files
after his death, and on doing research in Haiti at the UN and UNESCO
archives, it became apparent that Dartigue's contribution should be recorded
to give courage, determination, and inspiration to those who try to amelio-
rate the lives of the disadvantaged through education, with whatever means
they have and wherever they can.
I wish to express my gratitude to the friends and others who, in various
ways, helped me with this study. Special thanks go to our son, John, M.
Jarvinen, chief of the UNESCO archives, and Carlos Pereira in Haiti.
Before going on, it may be necessary to give a brief glimpse of the history
and geography of Haiti. It is situated in the western third of the island of
Hispaniola, bordered on the east by the Dominican Republic, between the
Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Haiti's surface is 10,714 square
miles or 27,750 square kilometers, and its population, which in the early
twentieth century was about 3 million, is today more than 6 million. There
are thus twice as many people living on the same amount of land, which has
become poorer by constant use and lack of proper upkeep. Many Haitians
live far below the poverty level.
The capital, Port-au-Prince, is built on the shores of the Gulf of La
Gonave, sheltered from the east by surrounding hills and protected from the
west by the island of La Gonave. Creole is the language of the people.
French is the official language, taught in the schools and used by the
bourgeoisie. The country, made up of coastal plains and mountains, was
heavily wooded early in the century. Now, due to deforestation to make
charcoal and objects for household use and exports, it is denuded, with its
precious surface soil being washed down by the rains into the bay.
The climate is tropical except in the high hills, where frost can occur
in the winter months. Although many peasants have drifted into the cities,
agriculture still occupies more than 70 percent of the population, with
coffee, sugarcane, corn, sisal, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, and rice being those
most produced. There are no mineral resources except for some bauxite now
almost exhausted. Actually, Haiti has become an importer of sugar and rice.
Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, the island of Hispaniola
became one of Spain's important colonies. The efforts of Bartholom6 Las
Casas, a Spanish Dominican priest, to save the native Arawak Indians,
decimated by forced labor, by replacing them with slaves imported from
Africa did not succeed. The Arawaks died off, but the colony thrived on
By the Treaty of Ryswick, signed in 1697, the island was divided
between France and Spain. The French built Haiti into a prosperous colony,
with products such as tobacco, ebony, and sugarcane. There arose an
aristocracy of French and Creole planters. There also came about a special
society of mulattoes and freed slaves, and a vast slave population. Relations
with France deteriorated. Agitation of the colonists for autonomy broke out.
In 1790 the slaves revolted against the colonists, with Toussaint L'Ouverture
as their leader. By order of Napoleon, L'Ouverture was tricked and captured.
He was sent to France, where he was imprisoned in the fort of Joux in the
cold Jura Mountains. Here he died a few months later of chagrin and utter
neglect. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a black general, took up the cause. He
chased away the French or had them murdered, tore the white out of the
tricolored French flag, and proclaimed the independence of Haiti in 1804.
Two years later, he was ambushed and killed. Another black general, Henri
Cristophe, made himself king and later emperor in the north and ruled from
1811-20. Suffering from increasing paralysis and realizing that the people
were coming to overthrow him, he took his life using a silver bullet (so it
was said). His family dragged his body up to the Citadel La Ferriere to keep
him from being torn to pieces by a populace tired of his excessive demands.
A republic was formed in the south under the presidency of Alexandre
Petion (a mulatto educated in France), who stayed in office from 1807 until
his death in 1818. Then General Jean Pierre Boyer became president, uniting
the two parts of the island until 1843, when the eastern part (which was
Spanish) broke away to become the Dominican Republic. Haiti, after
becoming for a second time a so-called empire under Faustin Soulouque,
finally chose to become a republic, troubled by civil wars and agricultural
problems as well as a heavy debt imposed upon it by succeeding French
governments as indemnities for losses incurred by the French colonists
during the revolt for independence.
The lynching of President Guillaume Sam in July 1915 by the mob,
after he had had massacred over 150 young political prisoners, provoked
the intervention of the United States to protect its nationals and its invest-
ments. The United States occupied Haiti until July 1934, when the marines
were withdrawn, leaving a few advisers for the army and the financial
An Outstanding Haitian,
The Formative Years
Jean Joseph Maurice Dartigue was born in Cayes, Haiti, on March 14, 1903.
The Dartigue family was mulatto and fairly well off. This permitted Maurice
to carry on his studies at a private Catholic school and live the life of an
adolescent without problems as a member of the bourgeoisie and later to
enter the law in the footsteps of his father. Maurice's father, Jean Baptiste,
better known as "Manto," was a lawyer as well as a proprietor of lands
planted in sugarcane which, transformed into syrup, was then sold to the
makers of rum and tafia, a strong, cheap alcohol drunk by the populace.
From his union with Regina Duperval there were born four children:
Th6rese; Ren6e; Jean Joseph, called Maurice; and Jehan-Sebastian.
In 1902 Manto was elected by popular vote as deputy for three years
to represent the district of Cayes in the national legislature. He refused a
second mandate. It may be that it is after this that he went to Panama to work
on the building of the Panama Canal, as he stayed out of politics until 1912,
when he accepted the post of governor for the south of Haiti (except
Jeremie), which the president, Tancrede Auguste, proposed to him. This post
Manto kept also under President Michel Oreste, who succeeded Auguste,
who died in May 1913. Michel Oreste resigned in January 1914, and in
February Oreste Zamor became president, to be destituted at the end of eight
months. He asked Manto to replace him. Manto refused, saying he would
not take office without being properly elected. It is then that he took his
family to Curaqao, where he stayed for several months. Another president,
Davelmar Th6odore, was in power from November 1914 to March 1915,
then Vilbrun Guillaume Sam from March 1915 to July 1915. In less than
three years there had been five presidents. A historian wrote: "Permanent
generalized anarchy is increasing each day. It is leading the country imper-
ceptibly to the border of the abyss."
Manto returned with his family in August 1915 after the lynching of
Guillaume Sam. The U.S. Army officer in charge of finding a president had
Manto approached for this post. Manto, indignant, refused, saying, "I do
not wish to be a puppet president."
Sudre Dartiguenave finally accepted the offer and stayed as president
from August 1915 to June 1922. Under him Manto did accept the Ministry
of Agriculture and Public Works. However, he soon had misunderstandings
with the president and returned to private practice as a lawyer in Cayes. His
family remained in Port-au-Prince to permit the children to continue their
studies. Manto came to stay with them two or three times a year but wrote
every week giving recommendations for the children. (There were no
telephones.) The trip on horseback took several days.
Manto gained a reputation as an orator and jurist. He was known for
his honesty and integrity. Money was not everything for him; he never
hesitated to help those of merit temporarily in need. Maurice also had these
Th6rrse and Ren6e, like all young ladies of good families at that time,
did not work; but when their father died in March 1924, six months after a
stroke, their situation became precarious and they had to work. Manto had
not had the time or the thought to provide for his family, even though he
had a good practice. He did not always send bills, expecting his clients to
honor their debts as he did. Unfortunately for the family, several of his
clients never paid.
After the settlement of the estate there was a sum of $2,000, which
Maurice, thinking of making a good investment, changed into German
marks, which in a few months was lost in the succeeding devaluations of
this money. Perhaps this hard lesson was the reason why for the rest of his
life Maurice was wary of investing in stocks. He became an excellent
administrator of his private funds and the public funds entrusted to him. The
youngest of the four children, Jehan-Sebastian, was still a law student in
1930 when I became acquainted with Maurice.
Th6rese found a job as a clerk in a bank, and Ren6e gave lessons to
children at home. Maurice, who was in his third year of law school, applied
to enter the Central School of Agriculture, opened by the Americans in 1924
at Damien, a large domain several miles north of Port-au-Prince, offered by
the Haitian government. While studying, he held a part-time job in the office
of the American director, Carl Colvin, which helped to support the family.
A few words about myself. I was born on December 30, 1908, in
Vizakna, Hungary, in the Transylvanian Alps, which became a part of
Romania under the name of Sibelieu after the war of 1914-1918. I was the
third of nine children. My father, Janos Reithoffer, having done his military
service in the Balkans, which in 1913 were part of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire, sensed the unrest of the people and on his return to Vizakna decided,
in consultation with my mother, born Katalina Hassler, to immigrate to the
United States. According to local standards we were "well off," having two
houses. One was sold to pay for our passage in "steerage." The other,
two-storied, was to provide us a modest income in America. However, it
became a refuge for the entire Hassler family during World War I, as the
property was enclosed by a high wall. It was never rented and provided no
income. We left in April 1914 via Trieste to join my father's brother and
family in Cleveland, Ohio. The war broke out in August.
My father was one of the immigrants who did not succeed very well
in the new world, and our growing-up years were quite difficult. To go on
to high school and college, I worked for room and board in several homes
but managed to stay in the same high school of Glenville, at that time mostly
frequented by the surrounding middle-class Jewish families. It was at
Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio, that I earned my B.A. degree in June
1930, in English literature and education. Besides working for my room and
board by taking care of a young child afternoons, I also waited on tables in
private homes, corrected papers for professors, worked in the library, etc.
At Wooster it was obligatory to have a B average to be permitted to work.
After Wooster, though I had obtained a teaching position in a secondary
school in Bowling Green, Ohio, I had also received a scholarship for
Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, so I decided to continue my studies there.
Between buses from Cleveland to Hartford, I had time to stop at Columbia
University in New York City. Before the morning was over, I was registered
at Teachers' College in the Department of Rural Education. My intention
was to go to Lahore, India, as a teacher in a mission. Wooster College was
Presbyterian and was connected with a mission in that part of India. I
obtained a loan scholarship and a job for my room and board. It was in the
rural education classes that I saw and came to know the young Haitian,
Back to him. After obtaining his degree in 1926, Dartigue continued
his now full-time job as assistant to the American director of the Technical
Service for Agriculture at Damien. This service included a school for
training teachers for rural schools and a school to prepare agricultural
agents, as well as experimental laboratories for plants and animals, a
plantation, and distribution of cuttings, seeds, plants. There was also animal
husbandry, etc. In 1931 its name was changed to the National Service for
Agricultural Production and Rural Education, SNPA and ER.
The director recognized rapidly that Maurice was a man of value and
was able to obtain a grant for him in 1927 and let him go for six months to
Teachers' College, Columbia University, for further training. Dartigue was
fortunate enough to secure a room at the International House, which had
opened in 1924 to receive American students, but also those of other
countries-especially non-whites-because of the color problem at that
time in the United States. Not all students would be as lucky and some had
great difficulty in finding decent quarters at reasonable prices. As one of
those, the son of a Ugandan chief, remarked bitterly, "To think that I am
obliged because of my color to live in Harlem." Race prejudice and
consideration of skin color were very strong even in New York City.
After six months Dartigue returned to Haiti and as a teacher gave
courses at the Normal School for teachers of rural schools at Damien. In
1929 for eight months he took charge and directed Chatard, the only rural
postprimary boarding school in Haiti, located near the town of Plaisance in
the Puilboro Mountains on the road to the cape. This school was created by
Allan Hulsizer, the American director of rural education in 1928; Maurice
was its first director. The school was composed of a dormitory, classrooms,
workshop, and plantation, where farm animals were raised. Thirty young
boys followed the program in order to go on to study at Damien.
Dartigue's sense of responsibility revealed him to the Americans as a
possible leader. He was given a second grant to return to finish his M.A.
degree in rural education in the fall of 1930 at Teachers' College. It was then
that we met.
Dartigue acquired his M.A. degree in February 1931. Before he
returned to Haiti in late March to work, we decided to marry. Although the
marriage was performed in strict privacy, somehow a Harlem newspaper
learned of it and published an item stating that a Haitian had married a white
student. At that time such an event was extremely rare. In the southern states
it was forbidden by law. Cohabitation between whites and blacks could
happen, marriages never. In the North such marriages were permitted but
were the exception.
Maurice left for Haiti. I was to follow when I had obtained my M.A.
degree, which I did in June of that year. However, having no money, I could
not go to Haiti without earning some to pay for a few clothes and passage
on a ship. I decided that the best and easiest way to build a nest egg was to
find a job as a cook. This is what I had been doing to earn my room and
board in a Union Seminary professor's home while studying. I do not
remember how I found the job, but I did find one in the home of the dean
of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York. The couple had an
apartment in New York, a summer home in Massachusetts, and a property
on the Hudson River. I enjoyed the experience. A student from Tallahassee
cleaned and waited on the table, so I was not alone.
By November I had put aside enough money to pay my passage to
Haiti. There I was cordially welcomed by Maurice's family and friends.
Having had French in high school, I remembered enough to carry on a
conversation. I was quickly accepted.
Because of the American occupation the Haitian upper class spoke only
in French and refused to speak English. Moreover, there was little social
intercourse between the Haitian and American families, except at the official
level. The Haitians are a proud and dignified people and resented the
When Maurice and I looked for a house in the hills surrounding
Port-au-Prince to be out of the heat of the center of the town, which I could
not bear, we found one in Pacot recently vacated by Americans. It had a
living-dining area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom in which we installed an
electric water heater, a great luxury on the salary Maurice received. A young
maid helped with the household chores. I gave lessons in English to augment
our income. The view from the front porch was unusual. We overlooked, at
a distance, the Cul de Sac plain and the mountains beyond. The sunsets were
Very quickly we became part of a group of Maurice's friends and their
wives, several of whom, like myself, were foreigners from various countries
of Europe. In Haiti such couples were not unusual, as monied families sent
their sons to Europe for their higher studies and some returned home with
brides. We went on picnics, walks, and excursions and to dances. I must say,
although Maurice worked very hard and took his responsibilities seriously,
he could relax; later, even as minister, he danced and chatted as if he had
not a care in the world.
The death of his father and his studies at Damien completely changed
Maurice's outlook on life and his future. His law studies would permit him
to be knowledgeable about law matters. This would help him throughout
his career, especially when he became a functionary of UNESCO. The
studies at Damien led him to a life of service for others in the realm of
education not only in Haiti, but far beyond. However, in 1931 he was only
interested in doing well in his job.
Director of Rural Education, 1931-41
The year 1931, in which Maurice returned to Haiti with his M.A. degree,
saw the election of a new president, Stenio Vincent, journalist. He would
hold the presidency until May 1941. Maurice and I had a good relationship
with the Vincents, especially with Stenio's sister, Resia, who became his
hostess after she returned to Haiti from the United States, where she had
taught French in private schools in New Jersey.
Maurice's office was in the building of the SNPA and ER at Damien.
Maurice was named director of rural education. He was given the respon-
sibility of managing not only the 72 farm schools created by the Americans,
but also 224 rural schools, of which 43 were coeducational, transferred from
the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Agriculture, for better control.
There were also the parochial schools but these were independent, linked
only by the subsidies given by the rural education service. These schools
were created by French priests in certain areas in virtue of an accord signed
in 1913 with the Haitian government.
Maurice and one of his friends, Andr6 Liautaud, also trained at Teach-
ers' College, directed the Department of Rural Education together for a time.
They intended to introduce reforms to make education in the rural schools
more practical by giving instruction in basic agriculture and simple practice
in animal husbandry besides manual arts. They felt that the rural school
programs were too theoretical and could not help to ameliorate the lives of
the peasantry. More practical subjects were needed.
Before the American occupation there had been urban and some rural
schools. Some existed in name only. The Americans were permitted to create
the farm schools with their workshops and gardens. But they were not
permitted to take on the rural schools, which were neglected in some areas,
if they even existed, and over which there seemed little if any control by the
Ministry of Public Instruction under which they had operated before the
The first thing Maurice and his very small team did was to make a
survey to find out where the schools were, the kind of teachers they had, the
number of children attending, and the material condition of the schools.
They called upon teachers of farm schools and others to aid in collecting
They found very few rural schools in good condition. Some were used
by the directors or teachers as their homes while the children were taught
outdoors under a tree or an arbor. In a few schools the teacher had not come
for months, the children being taught, if one can use the word, by an almost
illiterate substitute. It was found that some teachers in these mostly one-
room schools could hardly read or write. How could they teach when they
themselves needed to be taught? There were supposed to be inspectors to
control the schools, but often they did not know where the schools were or
if they had ever existed. These "inspectors" drew their salaries, such as they
were, and let it go at that.
The situation was really lamentable. Maurice himself took trips to the
interior to ascertain the conditions. Until I had my own school I often went
with him. We started out usually at 5:00 A.M. armed with sandwiches,
drinking water, and extra gasoline, for there were no service stations in the
interior. The roads were often bumpy.
Up to that time many teachers had been appointed through favoritism.
Maurice instituted a simple examination that all those who did not have
diplomas and those who were candidates for teaching posts had to take and
pass. One day President Vincent telephoned my husband to tell him that he
would like to recommend a man for a teaching post. Maurice replied, "No
problem, Mr. President; all he has to do is come to Damien and take the test.
If he passes he will have a job." The president had to accept this response,
whether he liked it or not.
Maurice wanted above all to professionalize education, which meant
hiring through competitive exams or proper credentials, thus moralizing the
system and keeping politicians out. At the first examination, of the 500
candidates, mostly employed teachers, 229 men and 89 women did not pass
and had to be dismissed, although there were not enough teachers to go
around. There were very few coeducational schools. It was under Maurice's
initiative, as he believed strongly in the education of women, that more
classes for girls in either existing schools for boys or new ones were opened.
Little by little the better-prepared teachers replaced the least competent, the
irresponsible or undisciplined.
A year after the changes were made, when some renovations had taken
place to turn the rural schools into the semblance of real schools, with as
good teachers as could be had, regular hours, more appropriate programs,
and a minimum of materials, one was impressed to see the whitewashed
schoolrooms, some plants growing out in front, see the flagpole with the
Haitian flag hoisted to the top, and hear a busy sound as one entered. Once
we arrived at a school as the children were saluting the flag. We listened
while they sang the national hymn. It made the heart glad. No uniforms were
demanded. The burden would have been too great for peasant families. The
important thing was to have the children come to school, shoes or no shoes.
Maurice and Andr6 put together a more efficient administration. They
shut down schools that were not serving the population and united others to
make for better materials and teaching. A census was taken. All the schools
were pinpointed on a map, indicating the location of everyone. This was
done by a statistician who had learned his job through experience and would
go for four summer sessions to Teachers' College to earn a degree in
statistics. Through the help of questionnaires sent to the rural schoolteachers
as to pupil presence, grading, etc., he was able to put together a body of
statistics for planning and finances as well as distribution of materials.
Certain schools had very little, if any, furniture. What there was, was
in poor condition. In one school the children brought their own stools from
home. One of the first things Maurice did was to have repaired or made
school benches and desks, teachers' desks, cupboards, blackboards, and
other necessary furnishings. The schoolhouses were repaired and repainted.
Three schools were built by the peasants of the different localities using
mud bricks or mud plaster.
Lessons concerning agriculture were introduced and shovels, rakes,
hoes, hatchets, and machetes sent to those schools where there was enough
land to have a school garden. Seeds and plants brought from Damien were
also distributed in the various areas according to what could be grown.
The seventy-two farm schools created by the Americans were com-
paratively well equipped with proper furnishings, materials, workshop, and
gardens. They also had the best teachers, graduates of the Normal School
at Damien or the Normal School of Port-au-Prince.
To ameliorate the teaching, Maurice instituted summer courses cen-
tralized at the Normal School at Damien, the program of which had been
reorganized to better prepare teachers and agricultural agents. These courses
of fifteen days or a month were intensive. They dealt with questions of
pedagogy, the utilization of manuals, administrative procedures, hygiene,
sports, basic knowledge of agriculture, and social action in the community.
All these innovations Maurice carried on with perseverance. He was
determined to bring the changes about to show what the rural schools could
be and do. He lightened the theoretical studies to include new subjects. Like
his friend Andr6 Liautaud, Maurice knew that to have a good system one
needed good teachers, good conditions, good programs, as well as good
administrators and specialists to advise, encourage, and show the way.
Maurice spoke out against political interference and wrote articles in
the newspapers to explain the necessity for the changes and innovations and
what he was going to do with his collaborators. The politicians were obliged
to accept the reforms and conditions, although with reluctance. Maurice did
not hesitate to criticize the educated townspeople, some of the bourgeoisie,
of which he was a part, reproaching them for their indifference toward the
(I myself gave a conference in 1932 that was reported in the newspa-
pers. I criticized the poor education being offered to the young ladies of the
bourgeoisie and their total ignorance of the problems of their country.
"Madame, Put on Your Gloves" was the heading of one of the newspapers
reporting. I repeated my admiration for the women of the people, who very
often carried alone the responsibility of raising a family. They had no ill
will, for the most part, toward the fathers of their children. These Haitian
women were and are people of great courage, fighting with and against
misery and penury.)
One of my English friends, seeing a postcard representing a group of
peasant women washing clothes by and in the river, was astonished that they
seemed to be happy and merry. She asked, "How can they smile so with the
kind of life they lead?" Because they take life as it is and make the best of
Maurice with his collaborators wanted to give his country schools that
would better respond to the needs of its people. He first strove to assess the
problems and understand them and then tried to resolve them.
From 1931 on Maurice and his staff produced a yearly report appearing
as a bulletin under the aegis of the SNPA and ER to show what had been
undertaken and what had been accomplished each year, letting be known
also the disappointments and the difficulties. The bulletins were drawn up
with data sent in from the schools, the supervisors, and the statisticians and
Maurice's own observations and research. He discussed the projects, the
finances, in fact, all areas of his administration. The reports were made
public so that those who wished to do so could know what was being done
in rural education and how the allotted budget was spent.
The bulletin contained several chapters: "Farm Schools," "Rural
Schools," "In-Service Training," "Supervision," "The Post-Primary School
at Chatard," "Housing and Land Services," "Finances," and "Recommen-
dations." Later "The Normal School" and "The Agricultural School at
Damien" were included.
Of course the bulletins differed from year to year, and if in 1931 and
1932 the bulletins announced projects successfully carried out, other years
progress was slower. Maurice began the regular compiling of statistics in
Haiti, believing them to be a very important part of school administration
to ascertain present and future needs. Later in Congo-Zaire he would insist
on setting up a bureau, as in Haiti, for the same reasons. In fact, how to
conceive what must be done for the coming year if there are no statistics for
guidance? Standardized testing was also introduced.
In the first bulletin appearing at the end of the 1931 school year
This is the first time that an organization has proceeded in an orderly,
methodical, concise, honest fashion for the education of Haitians by
It is the first time that teachers are appointed through competitive
examinations. It is the first time a president has taken a firm position
in spite of attacks, to uphold the work of the education service. It is
the first time there is a system based on a philosophy of education, on
a science which takes into consideration the needs of the Haitian
people. It is the first time young people are willing to spend their own
money to study abroad to return better trained to help in the re-
For the first time, too, the state became a publisher of school manuals
and published a number of classics destined for schools. In 1930 Maurice
had published by the state a book he wrote titled Problems ofthe Community.
As a preface to this book Maurice wrote:
The formation of useful citizens is one of the most important aims of
education. For this the schools must develop in the child certain
essential qualities such as interest in the well-being of the community,
civic ideals, practical knowledge of social institutions and the capacity
to appreciate the means and proper methods to promote common
well-being. In consequence, what we wish is not that the pupils learn
well the lessons in civics, but that the pupils become capable of
observing and thinking civically so as to be able to fill their role as
members of a nation....
In 1931, in collaboration with Andr6 Liautaud, Maurice wrote Local
Geography, the first time that Haitian schoolchildren would learn about the
geography of their own country before that of France.
Parent associations began to be created by the teachers with the rural
school as the center. Maurice was convinced that the child could not be
separated from his milieu and the school must come to the aid of the adults
and the community, as they must come to the aid of the schools. He was of
the opinion that the amelioration in the lives of the peasants would come
about through the interaction of the school, the parents, and the community.
He asked for a bigger budget to be able not only to raise the teachers' salaries
and to build more schools, but also because he believed firmly in the
education of girls, to augment the number of girls' sections and the recruit-
ment of women teachers for these classes.
Maurice stated: "Progress, particularly social progress, is closely
connected with the education of women." Thirteen sections for girls were
added to the farm schools.
In 1932-33 the name of L'Ecole Centrale de l'Agriculture was changed
to L'Ecole Pratique d'Agriculture. Maurice introduced the graduation cere-
mony with the giving of the diploma and the occasion to give a talk to send
the graduates on their way. He emphasized that graduation was not so much
an end as a beginning of a career in service of their country. Twenty-two of
the thirty-two graduates that year were immediately given positions in the
Department of Rural Education.
As to the budget, it was 793,786.50 gourdes (or $157,357.30), of which
54,144 gourdes went to the parochial schools. Almost 68 percent went for
teachers' salaries. Supervision was about 6 percent, administration about 6
percent, surveillance, construction, repairs, and maintenance 4.74 percent,
materials and furniture 4.05 percent, rentals 3.2 percent, the survey of the
situation of the schools 0.69 percent, and summer courses 0.45 percent.
Whatever was left Maurice put in a reserve fund for emergencies, grants,
and future projects. As with his private budget, he put aside part of the
allocated funds for unforeseen expenses.
In spite of a diminishing budget that necessitated the lowering of all
salaries, including his own, due to the economic problems of the country,
the Department of Rural Education was able to open six new rural schools,
and attach eighteen sections for girls in the boys' rural schools. Two farm
schools, one built by the Ministry of Public Works and the other offered by
a priest, were created, making a total of seventy-four. Examinations were
held for the recruitment of teachers. Each year there occurred vacancies due
to illness,job changes, and sometimes death. During the year, circulars were
sent to the schools containing information, suggestions for better ways of
teaching, lists of parent associations, explanations of new laws, etc. Inspec-
tors, appointed through competitive exams or chosen from among the best
teachers, made the rounds in the schools in the region to which they had
been assigned. They also came to Damien for consultations and meetings.
One of Maurice's preoccupations was the health of the teaching and
administrative personnel, especially some of the teachers living in outlying
regions in quite primitive conditions (in rare cases in real discomfort, with
no electricity, no running water, and only a privy) and without easy access
to provisions. Very often they felt completely cut off if they were the only
professionals in the area. In some localities there was a church or a chapel
with a priest in occasional or permanent residence and a worker in a field
dispensary open on the same basis. With these people the teacher could
exchange ideas. The roads in the interior, at that time, were of dirt, some-
times difficult to manage during the rainy season, as were the rivers. One
teacher to have his pupils attend school set up a sort of dormitory in the
workshop of his school in case rivers became too high for the children to
cross. He set up a rudimentary kitchen to provide at least a meal of boiled
sweet potatoes for those unable to go home. The visits of the inspector or
the agricultural agent were special events. It must be remembered that very
few people had cars and it was on foot or horseback or in trucks that people
outside the cities went from one area to another. Very few teachers asked
for time off, and if they did it was for malaria or dysentery. At this time, a
rural school teacher was a missionary and evoked admiration for the
sacrifices and privations faced. The teachers became very important in the
surrounding country and the schools often the center of activities.
Little by little Maurice's idea that a good system of education for the
masses could not be organized without technicians and specialists in the
different branches of education and without a corps of teachers graduating
from an adequately organized normal school was beginning to be accepted
by a limited number of his class. He kept repeating that the teacher was the
key to a good school, and for this training was essential.
It was a little later that mobile teams were composed and sent out to
the various districts to stimulate and encourage the teachers, but the summer
courses began as early as 1932. It was indispensable to ameliorate teaching.
The best teachers after examinations were employed; they were far from
well prepared, and in-service training was the only way open to improve
methods and philosophy. Classes were held for women teachers, too.
In 1934, encouraged and aided by Maurice and Andr6 Liautaud, I
opened a school with classes for three-year-olds and up through the elemen-
tary grades. We named it L'Ecole Modere, hoping to attract parents ready
to give up the rigid, set ways in which children were taught. This was the
first nursery school as we know it today, with dollhouse, blocks, water play,
dough, and clay, children choosing their activities, stories and rest times.
It was most difficult to find teachers with our ideas capable of teaching
through centers of interest, not insisting on memorization, recitation, and
dictation. Few parents were ready for this type of school, and some were
poor payers. Moreover, it was hard to convince parents that their children
were better off in our kind of school than in the others or staying at home
with often ignorant maids. I did find one good teacher who made up in
enthusiasm and initiative what she lacked in formal training. But I cannot
say that the school was a big success. Nevertheless, it kept me very busy.
A little later the sister of the president of the republic, Resia Vincent,
with whom I had formed a friendship, created a school for very poor girls
and orphans of the peasantry or the city poor in a poor section of the city to
prepare them to become maids, cooks, housekeepers, or seamstresses. Up
to that time there was no such school. Young girls, usually from the country,
were hired as domestics and for the most part not well treated. Some were
not even given a room and had to sleep on mats under the staircase. Resia
Vincent hoped to prepare girls for their future occupations, give them a
trousseau on leaving, and have them placed in families that would provide
properly for them. For this school she was able to obtain a group of five
nuns of the Order of the Auxiliary of Jean Bosco, known as the Salesian
Sisters. One of the original group is still living in Haiti. The school had a
chapel, a dormitory of a hundred beds, a simple dining area used for many
purposes, a large, simple kitchen, and a large laundry area. (I machine-
hemmed dozens of sheets and nightgowns cut from bolts of muslin begged
from dry goods stores.)
To supply a basic stable income Resia Vincent created a sports club on
the far outskirts of Port-au-Prince in the area of Thor on the bay, on land
offered by the government. She organized, with the help of friends, balls,
dinners, and lotteries, to raise money to fit up the club with four tennis
courts, a swimming pool, Ping-Pong or table tennis, a restaurant, a ballroom,
and an enclosed (to be safe from sharks) bathing space in the bay. She
searched for someone to manage the club of some three hundred members.
Finally she asked me to take it on. For a time I carried on with my school
and the club, but I decided for the latter, as my school gave less satisfaction
than I had hoped. I also had to admit that there were not enough parents
ready for my kind of school.
The club was at times very animated. We organized swimming com-
petitions and tennis and Ping-Pong matches, as well as catering dinners and
lunches. We even gave a lunch for over one thousand people-doctors and
their wives from other countries who had been at a conference in Cuba
invited by the Haitian doctors. It was quite a feat, but we brought it off. A
fixed sum was sent to the school run by the Salesian Sisters. Maurice on
weekends oversaw the gardeners' work as well as my accounts. He was a
severe taskmaster, and I had to take care to have the books properly done.
The fact that he managed the distance (as Thor was some miles south of
Port-au-Prince and Damien about the same distance to the north), having to
drive through the heart of the city in the heat and fumes in an open car,
showed his stamina and endurance.
But back to Maurice's work as director of rural education, and the
annual bulletins. In that of 1933-34 he invoked the important accomplish-
ments, especially the increasing professionalism of his growing staff due to
his obtaining grants for some of them each year for study abroad, mostly in
the United States, from where most of the grants came, the summer courses
at Damien for the teachers in service, the work of the inspectors, and the
exams for the recruitment of new or more teachers.
It was that year that Maurice introduced the study of social sciences in
the curriculum of the Normal School for rural schoolteachers and the
Practical School of Agriculture, which had been transferred to his depart-
ment. He wished to make the students more aware of the needs of the
populace and the institutions at work in their behalf. The students were taken
to visit in Port-au-Prince the police station, the hospital, the medical school,
the barracks, the fire department, the prison, the courts of justice, the town
hall, and the sugar factory. For agriculture, the experimental station at
Damien was used. Each student was given a plot on which to plant his own
garden. In the final semester they were sent to the best farm schools for
At Chatard, the students visited various institutions in Cape Haitian
and paid their expenses to go to see the citadel. They also formed committees
to keep the premises clean and a committee for student discipline. On Flag
Day they joined the local parade at Plaisance with the flag at the head of the
Another contribution was the introduction of the study of education as
a science. In Haiti a new conception of education was given birth. Maurice
insisted that it be considered a mental development process and should take
into consideration the child in its milieu: "Haitians must recognize that they
do not have to accept the existing conditions but should become capable of
changing them for the better." He also had installed a system of analytic
accounting for the classification of expenditures to have a precise idea of
the cost of the various activities of the rural education system he had put
A most important event occurred in that year, 1934, just before the end
of the American occupation. President Franklin Roosevelt came by ship to
Cape Haitian on the north coast of the country to announce the departure of
the occupying forces as a gesture of the "Good-Neighbor Policy." Maurice,
as part of the government, was there. He went by car. Of course the president
of Haiti, Stenio Vincent, hosted the reception in Roosevelt's honor. Fortu-
nately for me, I was also present, due to the kindness of Resia Vincent, for
whom a military plane had been offered so that she would not be tired from
a twelve-hour hot and dusty road journey. She; Mme. Leon Laleau, the wife
of the minister of foreign affairs; and I had the plane to ourselves and were
in the cape within an hour.
Roosevelt came by car from the port. A ramp had been placed over the
entrance steps of the reception hall to permit the president, who had had
polio, to be wheeled up. With difficulty he was helped out of the car. Flanked
by his two sons, one on either side, and wearing heavy leg braces, Roosevelt
managed with great dignity to mount the ramp on foot. He filled us with
great admiration. I can still picture him refusing his handicap, determined
to enter the hall with all the solemnness of his role as president of the United
States. It was most moving and impressive.
In 1943, Maurice, then minister of public instruction, agriculture and
labor, had the honor and the pleasure of dining at the White House, when
he accompanied President Lescot on an official visit to Canada, the United
States, and Cuba. (Of this trip I will report further on.)
The American occupation ceased in July 1934, and most of the Ameri-
can functionaries and their families left. On this occasion Maurice wrote:
The Americans in departing have given over to us an efficient army,
and admirable public services such as the Health and Hygiene Service,
the Public Works, the Agricultural Service and the Farm schools as
well as the Revenue and Financial Services. Now it is up to us to
protect these services from political intervention, favoritism and anti-
administrative and anti-govermental measures. So that discipline can
be implanted in Haiti it should come from "above." On the other hand,
the masses must be educated so that they can watch over to see that
the services are run properly. If the masses are educated they will no
longer accept seeing the roads they use deteriorate through lack of
upkeep. They will no longer accept that hospitals and clinics cease to
function, nor accept untrained doctors or nurses, nor illiterate teachers.
They will see the difference between good and bad schools and will
not tolerate the latter anymore. They no longer will permit their
representatives to vote laws contrary to their interests. [Alas, these
words did not have a lasting effect.]
But we are not there. The year 1934 was encouraging. The teachers
through the various courses and the help of the inspectors understood their
work better. They became more competent in the various aspects and
subjects as well as in their activities in the communities.
It is of interest to note that the mean attendance in the rural schools
was 14,727 pupils (11,073 boys and 3,654 girls) with a minimum of 12,761
in October and a maximum of 15,644 in June. However, this made for only
10 percent of the possible rural school population, which saddened Maurice,
but the budget just did not permit the opening of more schools, nor were
there enough teachers. There was also the problem of distances and/or rivers
to cross or no roads, although in some areas with only narrow footpaths
winding over the hills the peasants managed to go from place to place,
although not in the rainy season. Maurice once on an inspection tour was
determined to cross a swollen river to reach another school. For this he found
a horse, which, led by a peasant who carried Maurice's clothes in a bundle
on top of his head, was guided to the opposite side.
Testing became a yearly function. Maurice stated that without objec-
tive controls it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of teaching. The Bureau
of Statistics and Research created by him prepared, administered and
interpreted the tests. In the farm schools the advanced group went from 3.13
percent in 1931 to 15.58 percent in obtaining test scores of 70 out of 100
and those who made more than 50 came to 36.36 percent of the group. This
It was about this time that Maurice's brother, Jehan, obtained a grant
from Cornell University, where he spent a year for training in agriculture.
He returned to Damien later to become chief of one of the services. Maurice
never favored his family in any way. Each had to make out for himself.
Maurice shared with me some of his problems, and I did help him with the
chapter on education in Haiti for the yearbook put out by the International
Institute of Teachers' College. The book's title was Education in Latin
American Countries; it was edited by I. L. Kandel and published in French,
English, and Spanish. We put it together in early 1940. As it was on urban
education, it presented a dark picture. It was published in 1942, when,
through the reforms begun in the fall of 1941, the picture had already
changed. (I never held a position in Maurice's service or any other govern-
ment service. The Thorland Club, which I managed, was private.)
In Bulletin no. 11 for 1935-36, Maurice notes that in general, progress
was not as spectacular as back in 1931-32, but he was able to find grants to
send eighteen supervisors and other employees to the United States to
Teachers' College, Columbia University, where they were received for two
months during the summer. These young people had not had the training to
be accepted or registered as the usual Teachers' College students, mostly
there to earn a master's degree or their doctorates in education. The
Department of Rural Education at Teachers' College went out of its way to
respond to the needs of this special group. It hired for the occasion such
people as Allan Hulsizer, who had directed rural education in Haiti at
Damien from 1927 to 1929 and spoke French. He was given leave from the
U.S. Department of Indian Affairs to come to the aid of this group. Back of
all this was Mabel Camey, director of the department, who had been so
impressed with Maurice when he studied there and, through corresponding
with him and me, was "au courant" with what he was trying to do in Haiti
now that he had been given the opportunity to make changes and put into
practice what he had seen, heard, and adapted to advance rural education.
A few went at their own expense. With the knowledge acquired, these young
people returned with renewed enthusiasm and desire to help in the educa-
The summer courses given in Haiti were varied and aroused interest.
Among the subjects were theories of agriculture, singing, drawing, physical
culture, methods of teaching, principles of education, manual arts such as
weaving and basket making, and hygiene. Also discussed was how to teach
reading. At this time the "global" method was introduced, that is, learning
words as a whole rather than by phonetics, letters or syllables. (Not all
children could learn by this method, but to Maurice it appeared a better
method than the others.) Included also was how to administer the class, write
monthly reports, and keep a register. Quite intensive, the courses helped to
unify the system and professionalize the teachers. Moreover, they gave
those attending the feeling that the administration cared about them and
what they were trying to do. Perhaps these are the reasons why many gave
of their best to encourage the education of the children in rural areas.
Despite the scarcity of funds, Maurice sent two women teachers to
Puerto Rico. When they returned, they put together a domestic science
program. In July, intensive courses for women teachers were organized.
Supervisors had chosen these women. In the fall a written course in simple
sewing was sent to the feminine sections of rural and farm schools. This
was done for cooking, too, and in a few schools for child care. In one school
a contest for the healthiest baby took place. Six women teachers were invited
to gain practical experience in the maternity ward of the general hospital on
Saturday, as were the last-year pupils in one school. These were steps
forward in the education of girls in the nonurban areas of Haiti.
But the most important event was the transfer of sixty-three small
market town schools to the Department of Rural Education. So after the
seventy-four farm schools and the more than 200 rural schools put under
Maurice's direction, the sixty-three market town schools were added. As
stated in the report,
There has been progress in the work of education undertaken by the
government through the intermediary of the SNPA and ER, in its
entrusting us with these schools. Not all are in accord with the
reorganization because it deprives them of favoritism or nepotism.
Teachers are appointed through competitive exams, outside of politi-
cal interference, and they will no longer have the right to leave their
schools to substitutes and use their time for political activities. School
locales will be rented because of what they can offer to accommodate
the work of the schools and not to accommodate the proprietor,
whoever he may be. And yet it is just such things, that are very
important aspects of the reforms, that attract approbation. The popu-
lations concerned have given their consent. The proof is that atten-
dance has doubled since the reorganization. Another proof is that
notables of certain small market towns where the schools have not
been handed over to our department have tried to have the schools of
their towns come under our control.
Maurice was reproached for trying to "ruralize" the schools of the
small market towns. Here is the answer he gave to one of his critics:
One talks of "ruralization." But there is no question of that as the
programs are not the same. Education must be adapted to the condi-
tions of the milieu and to the needs of the children of the community.
It is not "ruralization" but "haitianization" of these schools, that is, to
give in these schools such education as to make the children feel their
Haitianness. A Haitian program must be elaborated with books on
Haiti written by Haitians and Haitian teachers (not foreign educators)
so that the pupils can become conscious of who they are and where
they belong individually, nationally and racially, and can develop
confidence in the capacities and possibilities of our race, acquire
necessary attitudes and proper methods to promote advancement and
bring about a really national Haitian culture.
Maurice would also try to make Haitians understand that it was not a
dishonor to work with one's hands, that book learning did not exclude
This prejudice that exists among us against manual work in the
country-side must be severely fought if we mean to come out definitely
from the rut in which we have sunk for more than a century and enter
in a serious fashion in the path of progress and of national inde-
pendence under the political, economic and intellectual aspects of our
At the same time, the teachers, in the rural areas where polygamy and
concubinage were the way of life, tried to help the priests to persuade the
people to adopt Christian marriages and monogamy. Several marriages were
brought about and celebrated in church. In the same order of ideas, 2,887
children took First Communion from among those of the rural schools and
1,989 from among those of the schools of the small market towns.
In 1936, Maurice was able to send Haitian young people to the United
States, among them a young lady of the bourgeoisie, Laura Nadal, her
departure provoking an outcry. In effect it was the first time that a young
female was to travel without a chaperone and in a group of young men! This
young lady, perhaps twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old, had musical
abilities and had studied music. At Teachers' College she trained in the
teaching of music and allied subjects. On her return she became music
supervisor for the rural schools and did very well. She helped the teachers
enlarge their repertoires and demonstrated teaching methods, how to organ-
ize singing, etc. (The devotion to their work of all the returnees was
remarkable. They were so grateful for having had the opportunity of
studying abroad that they really worked hard to prove that the confidence
placed in them had been justified. Only twice in the fifteen years that
Maurice obtained grants was he disappointed. One of those grantees decided
to stay in the United States and the other did not live up to the hope placed
As stated, Maurice introduced, besides music, manual arts and garden-
ing, when possible, in the rural schools and those of the small market towns.
Physical culture had been introduced in urban schools earlier, but not with
a trained specialist. Maurice believed that physical culture should have a
definite place in the program, carried out by someone who knew the
procedure. For this he found a grant for a young man to study for a year in
the States to come back to set up a good program, give demonstrations, and
supervise. Later one of the women employees at Damien was able to go to
Bryn Mawr College for Women. She went as far as the doctorate in social
service and returned to be of great help to Maurice and the department in
organizing programs and get-togethers for mothers to discuss child care,
simple hygiene, domestic science, etc.
Little by little the number of parent associations grew. Maurice hoped
they would link the school, the parents, and the community closer together.
There were evening meetings during which new laws concerning the
peasantry and people of small towns were explained, agricultural problems,
problems of animal husbandry, and the sale of produce discussed, but also
counseling on health problems offered. More and more teachers with the
pupils and sometimes some parents worked together to clean up swamps,
clean and extend irrigation canals or roadside ditches, and/or ameliorate and
beautify the public grounds or parents' homes. They renovated chapels
(163) and built privies (63), as well as repaired parts of the main road after
the rains. They also prepared for and took part in the national holiday
activities. They even put on amateur theatricals-and, so important, they
distributed plants, seedlings, and cuttings sent from Damien such as banana,
coconut, cotton, and vegetable seeds. The school became more and more
the center of the area. Volleyball was introduced. Other sports, begun by the
teachers, were carried on as leisure activities among the villagers.
Here is part of an article concerning the teachers written by Maurice
Lubin for a newspaper in 1972 or 1973, when we returned to Haiti after an
absence of fifteen years (for Maurice):
These young educators did not stay inside the walls of their schools.
They drained ponds, repaired the roads, built culverts, made coffins
and furniture, took up local cottage industries, gave first aid to the
victims of accidents if there was no dispensary. They tried to teach the
principles of the rational culture of the land and organized healthy
leisure-time activities. Basketball and volleyball, both newly intro-
duced in the country, were played. They put on simple plays, short
comedies, or readings.
Homage was paid to this ardent generation in this article, which went
on to say:
One saw them everywhere, these young educators, in the mountains,
on the plains and in the valleys, braving the inclement weather,
organizing rural gatherings, sensitizing the populations so that they
could understand and take part in a way of living that was better than
the old way.
It was really remarkable, all that Maurice with his growing team was
able to accomplish, for it was very important to give birth to cooperative
living. The cultural web of the countryside was enriched in this way. People
got to know each other better and began to feel that they belonged to a
developing group and were on the move from the static, do-nothing, narrow
ways of before. The primary school, with its devoted, energetic teachers,
showed the way.
But as Maurice wrote in one of his reports, "Just at the moment when
because of the amelioration of the training of the personnel, our capacities
for realizing further projects have augmented, our budget has been seriously
amputated. We could paraphrase the words of the Gospel. The workers are
here and ready but there are no instruments for the harvesting." Anyone else
would have been completely discouraged. Maurice refused to be discour-
aged and fought on.
It was in 1936 that Maurice wrote a short bulletin titled The Work of
Rural Education Accomplished by the Government of President Vincent
1931-36. It gave Maurice the occasion to summarize what he had tried to
do and perhaps plead his cause for more funds. He discussed the takeover
of the rural schools, the training of technical executive personnel, the
reorganization of the Central School of Agriculture, the amelioration of the
farm schools, the new philosophy in action, and the transfer of the small
market town schools.
A foreign educator wrote: "Your service should be highly congratu-
lated for the beginning of practical education in Haiti. Having been able to
organize primary public schools in the interest of the country has been, I
know, a formidable effort. I think you have an extraordinary institution at
Damien. Your work in research at the institute and the supervision in the
schools are, I believe, things of the first importance for a republic such as
In spite of the financial difficulties, he and his staff did not spare
themselves. He explained:
We have been able to keep the schools functioning because of the
ingenuity of more than one, and the adhering to strict economy. We
were also able to make better arrangements in certain schools, but the
compression of the budget has been difficult to bear. Our service was
given 63 more schools to manage and yet our budget has been cut. We
were to have more inspectors but the same number as before must now
supervise the new schools too. And the furniture, the school materials,
without mentioning salaries-how to raise those of the teachers who
have so merited raises?
Maurice also noted in one of his reports: "If important realizations have
come about much remains to be done." And this is what he proposed:
(1) absolute necessity to augment funds to supply farm tools, school
materials, furniture as well as money for more inspectors so that more
constant supervision can be carried out; (2) the creation of two
professional schools of Agriculture for those finishing their studies in
the Farm schools; (3) the creation of a Normal School for women to
teach in rural schools; (4) the obtaining of a grant for someone to be
trained abroad in rural cottage industries; (5) the sending abroad of
two women now in rural education for further study; (6) the sending
of two technicians of the personnel of the department of supervision;
(7) augmentation of the budget to raise salaries all along the line. It
goes without saying that the cut of 5 percent taken out of salaries
should be restored; (8) studies should be made of school construction
without neglecting the repairs to be made on existing premises. [He
was determined to persist even against the odds.]
Moreover, there were crippling droughts in some areas in 1936-37 so
that school gardens died. One teacher was able to build an irrigation canal
and revive his school garden. The surrounding peasants, seeing the results,
begged the teacher to help them build canals. From 1936 Maurice, with the
help of the agricultural agents, put emphasis on reforestation and the
planting of trees on the plains. A yearly Tree Day ceremony was instituted.
Due to the economic difficulties and the drought, school attendance fell
temporarily. Due to absences throughout the school years some pupils as
old as fourteen were no further than the third year.
After special study of almost a year, an agronomist became inspector-
instructor for the teaching of principles of agriculture in the schools. He was
to go from school to school to help the teachers to improve educational
methods. Trials were made in some schools to grow new plants. Maurice
hoped that this would be a beginning of improving the basic methods of
farming. However, no sooner had the agronomist been named than he was
transferred to one of the newly created agricultural colonies established in
various parts of the country.
By going begging to the Ministry of Public Works, Maurice was able
to obtain 10,000 gourdes for repairing certain school buildings.
In 1938, bang, the government handed over thirty-nine communal
schools to the rural education service. These were reorganized, as had been
the rural schools and the sixty-three schools in the small market towns.
Maurice took this in his stride. The reason behind the government's move
could be taken either as a compliment for the way Maurice managed the
rural education service or as a provocation to see just how much he could
take and succeed. Maurice still had to keep on giving subsidies to the
parochial schools over which he had no control and in which he could not
take a hand at reorganizing and it was a burden to give this money from his
It was only in January 1939 that the reorganization of the thirty-nine
communal schools could take place, as the money promised was not given
until then. Even that money was too little to pay all the expenses necessitated
for teacher salaries, furniture, repairs, material, and administration. Person-
nel had to be hired to handle this new task. After exams for the hiring of
teachers, those selected were given an intensive course of fifteen days of
training to initiate them to ways of keeping records and guides to the
program. The supervisor worked hard to prepare them for their responsi-
bilities, etc. Therefore, 1938-39 did not see certain projects undertaken or
carried out in those activities which Maurice most encouraged-agriculture
and manual arts-for lack of money.
Maurice's work was a battle every minute. Among other things, it was
imperative that he find better-trained women teachers so that such subjects
as hygiene, first aid, domestic science, weaving, and basket making could
be better taught. The school could not be improved if the personnel was not
better prepared. Even basic classical instruction suffered from lack of books
and materials. Maurice was afraid that the pupils, once they left school,
would return to illiteracy if they were not well taught and did not have access
to a library. He also wanted to preserve the national folklore and develop a
culture starting from the indigenous culture through the publishing of
folktales, the gathering of songs, choreography, etc., but he found himself
frustrated from the lack of personnel and funds. Even the instruction in the
Practical School of Agriculture necessitated more financial means, which
it did not have, for work in the laboratories and the library and on the
The most vexing circumstance was that the rural education service
budget was reduced in February 1938 by 35,410 gourdes' while, at the same
time, the budget of the Ministry of Public Instruction, which controlled the
urban schools, was raised by 200,000 gourdes, although 90 percent of the
population at that time was rural. Maurice, determined to carry on, declared,
"However, in spite of the lack of money, in spite of difficulties of every kind,
we will not let ourselves be discouraged. We are continuing to progress in
what we have undertaken. We have been able to obtain some results and
He pointed out that there were far more rural than urban schools and
the fact that because the rural schools were dispersed and some quite far
away they engendered far more expense to supervise and provide materials
for, too. Just the price for the transport of both men and provisions took a
great deal from the budget. Yet these distant schools had to be considered
and provided for. Besides, the teaching of principles of agriculture, manual
arts, and domestic science cost more than the teaching of the usual subjects.
And 56,120 gourdes of the budget goes to the parochial schools
leaving 992,372 gourdes for all the other schools outside the Farm
schools. Of the 85,402 gourdes foreseen for the communal schools
only 59,480 gourdes were put at the disposal of the service. The cost
per capital in the Farm schools is about 57 gourdes, in the small market
town schools it is 38 gourdes and in the rural schools only 33 gourdes.
Anyone with an idea of school finance and school administration can
judge the situation with which we are confronted.
Only two employees could be sent abroad.
What is so extraordinary is that Maurice was able to do as much as he
did with the small budget he had. It is for this reason that foreigners who
visited the various types of schools, learning about the small amount of
money earmarked for his service, were astonished, not to say filled with
admiration, at what he was able to get done. One such was Charles Loram
of Yale University, who visited the schools with a group of twenty-five
students from Yale. He said, "With that amount we could not have done a
tenth of what you have done." And to Mabel Carney, director of the
Department of Rural Education at Teachers' College, Loram wrote,
"Maurice is one of the ablest educators today. You may be proud to have
helped in his training."
During that year Maurice carried out a study with the help of volun-
teers, teachers, older students, and supervisors on 884 rural families titled
Conditions Rurales en Haiti, published by the State Press as Bulletin no. 13
of the SNPA and ER. It was the first such study ever done in Haiti. He
admitted that it was not the most scientific study, but it did take into account
all the realities of the rural areas: finances, agriculture, economy, animal
husbandry, customs, andplagage, a special custom of concubinage that may
be of interest to outsiders.
Although it was rare, a man could have up to eight common-law wives
who took care of the various bits of farmland he had in several localities. It
was not a question of being a profligate but a way to manage the properties:
the women were "placed" on the different lands for which they had the entire
responsibility. This made for a sort of matriarchy. The "placed" woman had
all the rights and duties of a wife, especially as concerns fidelity. The woman
was the head of the hut in a particular locality, and it was she who brought
up their children. There was one man named Ti-Joe who had nine common
law wives who among them gave him fifty-four children. Most men were
monogamous even when not married.
This system ofplagage was accepted, and the demand for the woman
was as formal as for a marriage. It is a custom that in 1992 is still carried
on in some parts of the country.
In the Bulletin no. 27, brought out for the year 1939-40, it is stated that
the work done that year was not as impressive as the years before, but that
through experience and counseling the technical value of the personnel had
increased and that the methods to help resolve the Haitian rural education
problems had been pursued with vigor and perseverance.
To find grants to send students abroad was a veritable fight, but finally
three were able to go to work for the master's degree, so that the number of
the team having that degree rose to eight. Most of the others had earned
B.A. or B.S. degrees.
It must be kept in mind that these were the first college-trained
personnel in educational matters, as there was no higher-training institution
of education in Haiti. There existed a school of engineering, a medical
school, a school for dentistry, and a law school. These will be referred to
For the first time the giving of diplomas was introduced at Chatard,
the postprimary boarding school. Maurice felt that those finishing and not
going on to Damien to either the Practical School of Agriculture or the
Normal School for rural schoolteachers should at least obtain a degree of
knowledge in the three R's and in the other subjects that Chatard offered
such as agriculture, animal husbandry, maintenance of tools, ideas of
construction, weaving, and basketry. He hoped they would go back to pass
on their know-how in the areas from which they had come.
Of course the ever-present problem of money took up much of
Maurice's time. How could he do all that needed to be done, all that he
wanted so much to do and have done, if the money that was essential was
not allocated? In 1936 there had been 19,036 pupils in the schools. Now in
1939-40 there were 22,369, yet the budget, which should have been
augmented, was, on the contrary, diminished. Maurice became a juggler of
the budget, not always knowing from where to take how much to put into
He was determined, wisely or not, to put up a farm school for girls with
domestic science in all its phases, the raising of livestock, gardening, and
manual arts being taught along with the three R's. It was to be a boarding
school, and 100 girls from all over the country were selected from among
the best in the girls' sections of the rural and farm schools to attend. He was
enthusiastic about this venture. He was fortunate to have found enough good
teachers and a directress to manage it. The establishment functioned some-
what like Chatard with its dormitory, classrooms, workshop, plantation, and
In the same year President Vincent created a special school in Cape
Haitian. It was called La Maison Populaire de l'Education and was a sort
of primary technical school for less privileged boys. It had its own budget.
The control and responsibility of managing it was given to the Department
of Rural Education, which meant more work for Maurice and his staff. Did
the answer Maurice gave to President Vincent back in 1931 concerning a
prot6g6 the president wanted hired and the management of the schools of
the rural areas and the small market towns convince the president that here
was a man of integrity, honest, capable, and responsible, for whom each
new task was a challenge that he would meet to the best of his ability? At
all events, the two new schools were not long in showing their importance
and producing results.
Maurice learned of the growing demands for cordage and baskets of
all sorts as well as coconut braids in the United States, due to the distur-
bances in the production of these caused by the oncoming war in Poland,
Czechoslovakia, and Romania. He established projects in certain schools
for the fabrication of these necessities, also made from bamboo, sisal and
other grasses, and leaves. By teaching the art of producing these, Maurice
hoped to increase the income of the peasants. He searched for local plants
that could be used in this way, all this through the schools.
One of the possible difficulties for the export of the products was that
those producing the handmade objects were not used to standardization.
There always had been basketry, but it is doubtful if any two baskets were
exactly alike. Now whimsy and irregularities could not be accepted.
Maurice pressed for standardization. Orders began to come from the United
States. Exports of these products began in August 1940. Maurice wrote:
"Certain measures must be taken to protect the workers and the stand-
ardization as well as the regulation of prices, the control of the raw materials
and the rhythm of production and especially the advantageous sale of the
products for the benefit of the workers."
From 1932 on, the parent associations did not cease to multiply, and
many functioned quite well considering how and with whom they were
formed. It was the first experience of working together for the betterment
of all for most of those taking part. Never before had they been called upon
to give of themselves for the school and the community. In 1939 there were
458 schools (mostly one-room schools) functioning throughout the rural
areas in all categories.
A constant concern was the amelioration of the facilities and offerings
of the Practical School of Agriculture and the Normal School for rural
schoolteachers. Each year there were repairs, of course, and the small
planting areas for the students' own gardens were increased and a rural
school was created for observation and demonstration. As elsewhere, the
teaching of manual arts was part of the program (work with the hands as
well as the head), but the head, too, was not neglected. There was an
excellent group of Haitian professors teaching in these two schools. Most
had degrees from universities in the United States or Europe. They also did
research on soil, plants, and animals. They were a stimulating team. Damien
at that time was a busy place.
Maurice tried hard to better the library at Damien and to increase
attendance. He felt there were not enough books, pamphlets, reviews, and
newspapers, so he set up the mechanism for the exchange of information
with various schools in the United States. He also encouraged Haitian
authors to donate their works, as well as books written about Haiti. In this
way the library grew in the number of written works it had to offer. Naturally
all the research and studies in the various laboratories and activities of the
SNPA and ER were placed in the library, too, as the depositary. He hoped
more and more students would use it.
In 1939 Maurice himself added to the library with his short study
L'Enseignement en Haiti (Education in Haiti), a book on the history of
education since Haiti's independence. He also wrote articles to defend his
program and explain it. Among others he wrote "Why Our Methods Are
Good," "The Concept of Education," "Education and General Intelligence,"
and "Some Aspects of the Haitian Educational Problem." He also wrote a
few articles concerning why modern languages were more important than
Greek or Latin and stating that Greek and Latin should be optional and not
obligatory in the secondary school program. He also insisted that the
teaching of the sciences was indispensable in today's world.
Incidentally, it was planned that I take a trip to Paris in the summer of
1939. I had learned so much about the literature of France that I was eager
to see and be in this capital where so many of the Haitians I had come to
know had steeped themselves in French culture. In fact, some of the Haitian
upper-class women were far more interested in what was going on in France
than in Haiti. They ordered the latest French books, magazines, and news-
papers. Few paid attention to the problems at hand. I criticized them for this
but did appreciate the French culture they had acquired. However, Maurice
sensed that war would soon erupt. Instead I went to the summer courses
held at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
The school year 1940-41 would be Maurice's last as director of rural
education. He had fought for ten years to have accepted the idea that
professional training was essential if one wanted to direct and occupy
oneself in the different branches of such a service as education. He also
fought for better-trained teachers and appointments through competitive
exams, without political influence or pressure. He fought for a school
program that contained not only the classic studies, but the more practical
subjects such as those he had introduced. He had put together the mobile
teams to go to the various districts to give demonstrations and help the
teachers arrange their programs. He tried to inculcate the feeling of belong-
ing to a nation, pride in being a Haitian, and the idea that one could
ameliorate one's milieu and one's own lot through education. It was said he
was authoritarian, but he had to be; otherwise he could not have accom-
plished that which he had decided to undertake. Knowing the character
weaknesses of some of his countrymen, he succeeded through his demands
and requirements in having them give the best of themselves. He also
appreciated their efforts and their devotion. In the 1941 bulletin he wrote:
"The enthusiasm, the goodwill of the administrative and teaching personnel
of the Department of Rural Education during this decade especially that of
1940-41 have made up for the insufficiency of allocated funds. But there
is a limit beyond which these factors can no longer be counted upon. They
can only do so much." He was always conscious that only 10 percent of the
possible school population was in school. He said that this number was not
great enough to bring change to rural life.
A few words about the three establishments created, two by Maurice
and one by President Vincent-the farm school for girls at Martissant, the
Center of Apprenticeship for Trades at Saint Martin, also near Port-au-
Prince, and La Maison Populaire de l'Education. All three recruited their
pupils from the poorest sections of the population and prepared them, with
mostly practical courses, to be able to go out and gain a livelihood on
It was in 1940 that an exposition of manual arts of the rural, farm, and
small market town schools, as well as Martissant, Saint Martin, La Maison
Populaire de l'Education, the Practical School of Agriculture, and the
Normal School for rural schoolteachers was organized by the Department
of Rural Education. For the first time the general public was given the
opportunity to see what had been achieved in this area of endeavor. The
minister of agriculture, Luc Fouch6, was surprised at the many different
objects of wood, clay, cloth, metal, and grasses, some quite simple, some
having taken time and reflection to create, that were exposed.
This minister accepted Maurice's ideas. Not all did. For whatever
reason, one minister, Dumarsais Estim6, was not helpful. In fact, he seemed
to try to discourage Maurice by questioning his actions constantly. Maurice
spent precious time going to see him to explain, because of rumors and
newspaper criticism. Another was the Belgian director of SNPA and ER
brought in by the government after the departure of the Americans. This
agronomist made verbal promises he did not keep. Here Maurice had to take
the time to confirm by writing what had been consented to, although the
men were in the same building at Damien. Each project and demand was
questioned. After the Belgian's departure it was a friend, at the same time
a rival, a Haitian agronomist, who headed the SNPA and ER. A friend since
youth, Georges Heraux, would create problems when Maurice became his
Of course each time one tries to innovate there is criticism. Maurice
did not escape this rule. The criticism came from politicians of all ranks and
a few of the bourgeoisie. Apart from the articles, Maurice did not waste his
time answering these. He said, "The work should speak for itself. If the
critics took the time to understand what I am trying to do and come and see
for themselves, they would change their minds." He developed his ideas
and prepared for the future. His constructive spirit appeared wherever he
was able to express his views. In such dailies as the Haiti Journal, Le Matin,
and Les Echos, he discussed such things as the mobilization of the youth in
service for the country and the use of Creole in the first two years of primary
school. Articles did appear by others in favor of his books and what he was
trying to do. But as some of these were job seekers, Maurice was wary of
the compliments. There was one newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, that criticized
most of what he did, especially after he became minister.
A few of the activities that went on in the period 1939-40 need
mentioning. Maurice reported that he had not been able to raise salaries of
some rural schoolteachers. This bothered him. Moreover, because the rural
families were so poor the schools supplied pencils and paper and some
books, but he did not know how long he could keep this up. Basketmaking
was catching on. He hoped that someday a demonstration school could be
set up in each of the fifteen rural school districts with a national program of
home economics and teachers would come to them for further training.
By 1939-40, 127 parent groups had been formed. Teachers also formed
youth groups for activities in school and out. There were 144 of these,
including the Boy Scouts. Social and civil activities were carried on.
In 1940 Maurice organized the third conference on education of the
Caribbean countries. He had been in Puerto Rico as a delegate in 1939. The
conference was cordial, and as we were living at Thorland, I invited the
delegates to the club, although they had little time to relax.
It was also at this time that Maurice and I searched to buy a house in
the hills of Port-au-Prince. The hills rose on two sides back of Port-au-Prince
away from the center where the bourgeoisie had lived before. Land became
available on the hills above the center of the city, which had taken root
during the time of the early French colony. We found a property in the area
called Turgeau, near one of the sources of the water that was piped into the
city. On it we had built a simple two-storey house that had a living/dining
room, terrace, carport, and kitchen on the ground floor and three bedrooms
of different sizes and one bath upstairs. There was a magnificent view of
the bay and the mountains. In the spring of 1940 we moved in, and it was
there our son, Joseph Maurice Jean Frederik, was born on September 12,
1940. He Americanized his name to John and is now an American citizen
living in Los Angeles, California.
A few years before Maurice and I had bought two hectares (about 5
acres) of land in the mountains, several hours by car and horse (at that time)
from town in an unspoiled area called Furcy, where peasants lived and a
few city people had built small, simple houses as summer homes. We were
fortunate in that the Americans were selling a very simple structure made
of sheet iron and mosquito wiring, with a wooden floor. This we bought for
seventy-five dollars and had it dismantled and carried over the hills on the
heads of peasants to the property where it was rebuilt. The mosquito wiring
was replaced by more sheet iron, and windows were inserted. There was no
running water. Both the shower and the toilet were outdoors. The cottage
consisted of two rooms and a primitive kitchenette, with most cooking being
done outdoors. The view in the mornings toward the mountains higher up
called Morne La Selle was breathtaking. Not able to stand the heat of town,
I went up as often as possible. The primitiveness of the small house and the
surrounding area of woods and hills was a restorative from the heat and
demands of life in the city.
Before leaving this period often years, 1931-41, would like to evoke
a few souvenirs. Maurice took me to see historic sights in the north of Haiti
such as the Citadel La Ferrimre, built by the self-proclaimed king and later
emperor Christophe, who also created a nobility, with an etiquette based on
the French royal court. This disappeared at his death in 1820. That period
was portrayed in the play called La Tragedie du Roi Christophe (The
Tragedy of King Christophe), written by Aim6 Cesaire from the French
Antilles, an eminent poet, playwright, and professor. (More about him later.)
We also visited the "baths" built for Pauline Bonaparte, who spent some
time in Cape Haitian when her husband, the general Leclerc, was sent by
Napol6on to Haiti to put down the rebellion of the slaves.
We also were able to go to the Dominican Republic in 1933 through
the kindness of a dear friend, Andr6 Chevalier-later ambassador to that
country-when a military plane was put at his disposal by the president of
the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo Molina. There we visited various
sights, most impressive of which was the metal or wooden trunk of Chris-
topher Columbus kept in the main cathedral in Ciudad Trujillo.
From February through April 1941, Maurice was invited by the United
States government, certainly by the Department of Latin American Affairs,
through Richard Pattee, who was attached to that service and had met
Maurice in Puerto Rico. Maurice visited the Indian reservations in Minne-
sota and South Dakota to observe the activities carried on that might be of
interest for schools in Haiti.
In Bulletin no. 31 (1940-41), Maurice made a resume in a few lines of
the work he and his group undertook and carried out for rural education. He
recalled that he had found, on his return in 1931, the seventy-two farm
schools created by the Americans. Immediately were added the more than
two hundred rural schools. From the very beginning it demanded a constant
effort. It was the first time that a man of his caliber, with his kind of training
and experience, headed the service. One must add that he had deep convic-
tions for which he was willing to go to battle. He fought inertia, lack of
discipline, irresponsibility, political recommendations and incompetence.
He worked ceaselessly to eradicate these. He tried to base promotion on
merit. He showed that it was necessary to try to do something, even if it was
not always successful. He strove to motivate his colleagues and staff to
greater efforts to help the population without a veritable structure to improve
its condition through education, which, he thought, was the only way to do
Maurice severely condemned negligence and mediocrity. He fired
several hundred so-called teachers who were supposedly teaching in non-
existent schools or who had hired substitutes to teach while they did
something else, as well as the constantly absent ones. Of course those who
were then deprived of their sinecures hated Maurice, and he acquired many
enemies. He was menaced several times. Once when we stopped in our car
he said, "Duck your head." He then slowly restarted the car and calmly
drove on. I asked him why he had told me to duck. He answered, "A man
on the opposite corer was aiming this way, and I did not want you to be
hurt." Did the man not shoot because I was with Maurice?
Faced with someone higher in the ranks than he was (director of SNPA
and ER, ministers, or the president of Haiti) Maurice showed his force of
character and defended his belief that only through reforms in education
such as he was introducing could there be a process of development.
Maurice knew what had to be done and how it could be done. He had
acquired a philosophy and had learned the principles and the methodology
of education. He knew his country and how far he could go, which is why
he used basically the same strategy from the beginning as each new group
of schools was handed over to his department-survey analyses, plans, and
reforms begun. He quickly understood the needs of the schools not only as
to personnel, but also as to furnishings, furniture, teaching materials, etc.
He could not obtain all he needed but did the best he could and far more
than anyone had done before him. He also made the best of the teaching
personnel who, even of those chosen through examination, were not highly
That was one of the reasons for Maurice's creating the mobile teams
mentioned earlier. Moreover, he insisted on the summer courses, when a
group of teachers was brought together in a certain town of a district for
fifteen days or more. I visited one such group with Maurice. It was held in
Fort Libert6, near the Dominican border in the north. Living under primitive
conditions, this group was still enthusiastic and willing to participate.
In the last bulletin appearing while he was still the director of rural
education, Maurice was not afraid to judge his own actions. He stated:
It has not been possible to extend, which everyone would have wanted,
and which without a doubt is necessary, the work undertaken since
1931 and carried on since with obstinacy. The educational problem is
badly posed because the benefits of an education have not been
extended beyond a minority of the population. This struggle against
ignorance cannot suffice to launch the country on the road to devel-
opment and progress. The highest number of attendance was in May
1941. It was 35,508 pupils when there should have been 400,000
corresponding to the school population of the several districts of Haiti.
However, one can measure the progress accomplished in a year com-
pared with the year before.
Some interesting statistics: All rural schools put together had 32,824
pupils in 444 schools, with 13,519 pupils in the rural schools, 9,375 pupils
in the farm schools, 6,404 pupils in the small market town schools, 2,496
pupils in the communal schools, and 1,030 pupils in the schools put up in
the colonies agricoles (agricultural colonies) created for the refugees of the
massacre of the cane cutters committed in the Dominican Republic, of
which I shall speak later.
To this total must be added the 150 children of the Maison Populaire
of Cape Haitian, 130 pupils at the Center of Apprenticeship for Trades at
Saint Martin, 100 girls at the special farm school at Martissant, 20 students
at the Practical School of Agriculture, 20 in the normal school section, and
22 at the boarding school of Chatard, the total being 33,266 pupils, exclud-
ing students of private and parochial schools.
The number of inspector-supervisors increased from 8 in 1931 to 15
in 1941, some being supervisors of special subjects. The number of teachers
went from 408 to 667. However, the budget was not significantly aug-
mented. In 1940 it was brought back to 830,794 gourdes, which was
approximately the budget back in 1932-33, instead of the 1,038,798 fore-
Charles Tardieu Dehoux wrote in the dissertation he prepared for his
doctorate in 1986:
Maurice Dartigue accomplished in the course of ten years as director
of education for the non-urban schools much more than any other for
Haitian education. Dartigue's performance contains a mixture of three
points from which emerge the educational policy. Dartigue thought
out a coherent philosophy of education in general, a philosophy that
guided his actions. He was a competent technician, who had a scien-
tific approach to reality, and no action was envisioned, let alone
initiated, without a preliminary survey or investigation. Finally Dar-
tigue showed himself a tested administrator of high integrity, a man-
ager without peer as concerns human and material resources.
I have taken the time to evoke Maurice's philosophy and his interest
in promoting the cooperative life of the rural areas. I also wish to recall the
School of the Agricultural Colonies set up quickly to accommodate the
children of the refugees fleeing from the massacre of the Haitian sugarcane
cutters in the Dominican Republic.
General Trujillo, president of the Dominican Republic, had an obses-
sion concerning color. At least, this was the rumor. The Dominican popula-
tion was on the whole a lighter shade than the Haitian population. Trujillo
objected that the Haitian cane cutters, all black, wished to stay on in his
country once the sugarcane had been cut. In 1937, a great number of these
people resided in the republic, ignoring the accords signed by the govern-
ments. A similar accord had been made with Cuba, but Cuba was much
farther away and with a sea in between. Haiti and the Dominican Republic
were land neighbors with some unguarded frontiers. Infiltration was much
easier. Too many Haitians, besides the cane cutters, chose to settle there.
Instead of negotiating with the government of Haiti, Trujillo in a sudden
raid had many killed, more than three thousand at the minimum. Some put
it as high as fifteen thousand. To keep from being killed, hundreds fled
across the border into Haiti. Confronted with this sudden influx, the Haitian
government quickly set up agricultural colonies to organize the repatriation
and open schools for the children. Andr6 Liautaud was appointed director
of the colonies. I think there were five. Several specialists in the Department
of Rural Education were also transferred without Maurice's being informed
or consulted. These transfers provoked disorder in his services and in his
allocated budget. In a letter to the director of SNPA and ER he made a formal
When Maurice returned from his trip to the Indian reservations in the
United States in the spring of 1941 he little thought that in a few weeks'
time he would be asked to serve in the ministerial cabinet of the newly
elected president, Elie Lescot.
1. One gourde at the time was worth twenty cents; five gourdes equaled a dollar and was
exchanged without difficulty.
Minister of Public Instruction
Public Instruction-The Educational Reforms
Whether it was the Americans who convinced Stenio Vincent not to run for
another term, since he had already held the presidential office for almost
ten years, or whether President Vincent decided it was time to give up the
post, he let it be known that he would not run again. I still can recall the
suspense in which we all were until he made up his mind definitely.
Several candidates appeared, among them Elie Lescot, ambassador of
Haiti to the United States. He had also been ambassador to the Dominican
Republic, so he had the backing of the two governments. On one of his visits
to Haiti during the campaign, Lescot toured the interior of the country. He
was much impressed by the farm schools, whitewashed, ornamental plants
in front, a flagpole and a garden on both sides of the paths leading to the
entrances of the schools. He asked, "Who is responsible?" The answer:
"Maurice Dartigue." Lescot received the same impression on visiting the
rural schools and even, on a much simpler scale, the small market town
schools. When told each time that it was Dartigue's service that was behind
all this, he said, "If I become president it is this man I will choose to be the
minister of public instruction." He kept his word.
Just three months or so before the elections, the post of the undersec-
retary for agriculture became vacant. Georges Heraux, of whom I have
already spoken, came to ask my husband if he was going to try for the job.
(The incident occurred at a charity ball at Thorland. We were seated at a
table, so I took part in the conversation.) Maurice answered, "I will not ask
for the job. If I am needed, it is known where I can be reached." George
Heraux presented himself and became the undersecretary for the short time
until the elections. Had he then hoped to become the minister for agricul-
At the National Archives of the United States, where I did research in
the spring of 1991, I found a confidential note sent by the charge d'affaires
stationed in Haiti to the State Department concerning the makeup of the
newly elected (May 15, 1941) president's cabinet. For the other ministers
mention was made of whether they were married or not, had children or not,
but for Maurice, the following statement was made: "A young intelligent
man married to a white woman. He would probably cooperate." (author's
emphasis) A mixed marriage was so unusual for Americans at that time that
the charge d'affaires felt it necessary to mention this fact. As to the
cooperation, there would be limits as to how far Maurice would be willing
So Maurice became minister of the three portfolios: public instruction,
agriculture, and labor. He would be the only minister who would remain in
the cabinet from the beginning to the end of Lescot's presidency, but after
November 1945 Maurice would give up the ministry of public instruction
and keep agriculture and labor. As minister of public instruction, he became
responsible for the urban schools, but as minister of agriculture he kept
under his control not only rural education, but the entire SNPA and ER, of
which Georges Heraux became director.
Considering rural education first, the fact that Maurice vacated the
directorship of the service caused changes all along the line. Andr6 Liautaud
succeeded him but in a short time was named to the post of undersecretary
for finance, and a year later posted to Washington as ambassador. Then
Oscar Boisgris was installed as director for the time that Maurice held the
office of minister of public instruction. He did his best.
Due to the possible effects of the war in Europe on Haiti and to offset
shortages of one kind or another, special projects were undertaken in the
two schools, that of Saint Martin and Martissant for the fabrication of soap
and bricks, vegetable oil production, workshops for spinning cotton, etc.
The 4-H clubs (Head, Hand, Heart, and Health), so well known in the rural
areas of the United States, were adopted and adapted for Haiti. These, too,
did useful work between the school and the community.
Due to the expanding war and the extension of SHADA, which
involved the destruction of a large number of farms and plantations and of
which more later, importance was given to the planting in the school and
village gardens of corn, sorghum, sweet potatoes, manioc, and beans, all
mainstays of the rural population.
From 1941 on through the war, difficulties of several kinds arose for
the teachers and inspectors, including transportation problems and gallop-
ing prices. For the inspectors there was an added burden, the hiring of new
teachers because SHADA siphoned off some of the old teachers by offering
them better salaries. The new teachers did not have the experience, the
philosophy, or the methods that the rural education service, especially the
inspectors, had succeeded in inculcating. They worked hard to initiate those
newly recruited. Even among them there were transfers, job changes
permitting the better-experienced teachers to accede to inspectorship, but
they in turn needed help.
Unfortunately, not everyone responded with pleasure to all the de-
mands. A few complained of the extra work and time put into planning,
preparation, and the schedule. That is why Maurice wrote an article in one
of the newspapers, The Septentrion, in which he stated: .. One cannot
work on a farm only from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M. One cannot do research working
only from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M. One cannot develop an educational system
working from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M. One cannot seriously organize or ameliorate
an administration working just from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M. We should banish
laziness. The keyword of the day should be work, stubborn work, intelligent
and efficient work."
The many changes severely disturbed the smooth running of the rural
education service. It was for this reason perhaps, among others, that Maurice
called upon his mentor and friend of his early career, Allan Hulsizer, now
in the Department of Indian Affairs, to come to Haiti for two years as a
senior adviser at Damien, where he had been from 1927 to 1929, to
overlook, suggest, advise, smooth misunderstandings, and show a good way
out of a difficult situation. He was objective, devoted, and interested. He
brought modifications to the program and methods at the Practical School
of Agriculture and the Normal School. But some in the service resented his
The national holiday of May 1 in 1943 was exceptional for the schools.
It was celebrated at Damien in the presence of the president of the republic.
The celebration took on the aspect of a fair. Prizes were given for the best
animals (peasants had brought sheep, cows, pigs, fowl, and goats from far
and near), the best farm products, and the best in carving, embroidery,
basketry, pottery, and even furniture. Prizes were also given to the winners
of school sports events. A number of schools were represented, as were the
upper schools at Damien and the schools at Chatard, Saint Martin, and
Martissant. The public had been invited, and many visitors showed up. The
director of a private secondary school in Port-au-Prince was so enthusiastic
that he offered a grant to a student who on finishing his studies would go
back to work in the community from which he came.
Because of all the changes, as stated, the inspector-instructors had
much more to do. At times they were called upon to work with their hands
to help repair school furniture and make blackboards, small ovens for clay
work, molds for the making of bricks, simple bake ovens, etc. They also
visited the notables of the area in order to obtain playing fields and possible
permits to put up schools.
In spite of these various changes and upsets, the administrative services
managed. The central bureau sent out circulars and leaflets especially to
help the new teachers. The more experienced inspectors gave help to the
recently hired ones. A magazine called The Rural Teacher was founded. In
it appeared articles on aids in methods, school programs, suggestions,
extracts, original contributions, news, etc. The number of school canteens,
the plant nurseries, and the raising of chickens, rabbits, and goats pro-
In 1943 Maurice offered the police the school at Saint Martin so that
courses could be given to rural chiefs of sections to give them a basic
training for greater knowledge of their duties and responsibilities. The
instructors were from the army or the police.
Under Maurice's guidance even greater effort was put into growing
food products, as well as encouraging basketry and weaving of different
grasses. He looked for new markets for the sale of these products.
Students from Damien were sent to SHADA for apprenticeship in
basketry. Eleven pupils from rural schools were sent to Saint Martin for six
months to learn the manual art so as to return to their communities to help
the school to diffuse the technique. That year Saint Martin housed 100
students but also held classes for 65 externs. At Saint Martin there were built
by its students 43 looms and 100 spinning wheels. In the feminine sections
of the rural schools, domestic science and principles of child care were
important parts of the program.
The specialists in the various fields of the central bureau of rural
education made their rounds, being more often in the field than at the bureau,
to second the mobile teams, the inspector-instructors, and often the teachers,
since so many at each level had less experience than those who had left.
After four years of summer courses forty-three male teachers and
seven female teachers of rural schools received diplomas. The determina-
tion and perseverance of these teachers, especially the women, were exem-
plary. Special courses were organized for all the inspector-instructors of
It was in January 1944 that the reorganized Normal School for women
to teach in primary schools was opened in Martissant. The former Normal
School had been closed soon after Maurice became minister. He felt that
the program was outdated. (It had not changed since 1915.) Moreover, most
of the young ladies attending did not go on to teach. It was more like a
finishing school, for up to that time, until Maurice opened the first one, there
was no secondary school for girls. There were no manual arts except
embroidery, no observation nor any practice teaching. Teachers were
needed. A more useful normal school was needed. By putting the school on
the outskirts and making it into a boarding school, it would respond to the
real needs and have as its students young women who would go into
teaching as a career. Until a Haitian woman was trained to direct it, an
American woman of experience offered by the U.S. government was called
in. This was loudly criticized. There was such a fear of Americanization, it
was almost a phobia.
Maurice had the former locale of the Normal School transformed into
the first "lyc6e," or secondary school, for girls ever in Haiti, thus permitting
its graduates to go on to higher studies after obtaining the baccalaureate.
Very few young women had it, and the very few who did acquired it through
private tutoring and permission to take the examinations or through study
abroad (very, very rare). Ambitious young women would now have the
chance to be on a par with the young men of Haiti.
Who would have thought during the years 1941-46 that several of the
staff trained under Maurice in rural education and the ministry would be
called upon in 1961 by him to go to the Congo (Zaire) as professors and/or
administrators to help in the reorganization of education in that country?
The first twenty-nine of them included Oscar Boisgris, the statistician and
later director already cited, and Abelard Desenclos, as well as Ludovic
Bourand, who with great conscientiousness and honesty handled the budget
and finances. Recruited by UNESCO, they proved what trained Haitians
could do. The team formed by Maurice showed they could meet the
exigencies of an international organization such as UNESCO and demon-
strated that training can be a trump card for all the developing countries.
In 1943 thirty-two teachers took the weaving and basketry courses at
SHADA. Others (ten men and eight women teachers) took the summer
courses at Damien. In September fifty-seven teachers of secular and paro-
chial schools took courses in clay work, drawing, and bookbinding to
introduce these manual arts in their schools. This was a feather in Maurice's
cap, as parochial schools were not obliged to do this.
Salaries were raised. Money had to be found to continue in-service
training. Change was noted. In effect, here and there it was ascertained that
efforts were being made by teachers to further themselves from old methods
of "book learning" to vary and ameliorate the program by making room for
arts and crafts. The classroom became more informal, with groups doing
different things and the teachers busy with one or the other, rather than the
teacher in front with the children staring at him or her or all bent over their
desks with pencil and paper or sharing the few books. It is necessary to say
"here and there," for not all teachers were willing or able to change.
Sometimes conditions did not lend themselves to change. Moreover, as
stated earlier, this kind of teaching took much more planning, preparation,
and exertion. However, change did come about.
The Reforms in the Urban Schools
The rural schools and the rural education service have been discussed
first because of the changes caused by Maurice's being named minister and
leaving this service. As he became not only minister of public instruction,
but also minister of agriculture, under whose control the rural education
service functioned, it seemed appropriate to continue to discuss this area of
endeavor. But as will be recognized, it would be the urban schools that
would take up much of his time. The urban schools needed reforms, which
he would carry out, and urban schools would cause the greatest and constant
criticism by some of those who had been to school, had acquired a certain
status, were articulate, and felt satisfied with the status quo, that is, the
classical, so-called humanist studies that met the needs of fewer than 10
percent of the population.
When Maurice was appointed minister of public instruction, a phar-
macist friend said, "Tell him to leave things as they are; have him keep the
status quo." My reply was: "Not if I know my husband! That is, I am sure
just what he is not going to do. There are too many things that need
Very little is known about public schools in Haiti before 1848, but in
that year, when Honor6 F6ry became the first minister of public instruction,
three town and three rural schools, all nonpaying, were created. The number
of public primary schools grew. In 1941 there was a certain structure of
administration of these schools. There were 499 teachers in 134 schools
functioning in various numbers in 39 cities and towns throughout the
Two months after his being named, Maurice sent the president-elect a
plan. It consisted of four steps.
Thefirst step included the following points:
(1) The elimination of the service of general inspection, as it in no way
contributed to the improvement of education and cost the state 28,000
(2) The fusion of the Normal School for Men with the one at Damien to
become one good school, since that normal school had been built on
a solid basis and had good professors and a well-adapted program.
(3) The schools in the small market towns still under the control of the
urban education service (which made possible direct political interfer-
ence) being placed under another service (more outcries of ruraliza-
(4) Suppression of two lyc6es (which had been created for friends of
politicians) and the giving of grants for the best students who would
be admitted to the lyc6e of either Gonaives or Port-au-Prince.
The second step included:
(1) The nomination and training of competent personnel.
(2) Sending the best inspectors and teachers to the United States for
summer courses in July and August.
(3) The establishment of a budget for the training of teachers and special-
ists in the different educational and administrative branches so that the
Normal School, especially its teachers, would be of a higher level.
The third step concerned itself with:
(1) School construction.
(2) The buying and providing of adequate school supplies.
(3) The making of proper school furniture, repairs, etc.
The fourth step involved:
(1) The reform of programs and methods of teaching in the urban public
(2) The teaching of manual arts and civic and moral instruction not only
in theory, but also in practice. Maurice urged the change from "brain
cramming" to the encouragement of reflection and real understanding.
(3) The modification of the program of the Normal School for young
women situated in Port-au-Prince. (This has been referred to earlier.)
President Elie Lescot accepted these proposals, and Maurice started to
carry out the plan. He had the support of the president throughout.
The Primary Schools
First, as he had proceeded in rural education, Maurice had a survey
made. For this important task he formed a directional committee consisting
of himself, Andr6 Liautaud, M. Latortue, Oscar Boisgris, R. Dreyfus, and
Mme. Comhaire Sylvaim, all of them personnel of the rural education
service. In pairs or alone, they took charge of an area, in some cases with
added members. The investigation took into consideration the physical
condition of the schools, the attendance and administration, and, even more
important, a simple test for aspiring candidates, the same sort of test as that
of the first certificate test given at the end of primary grades. Information
was also needed as to how the teachers were distributed and their compe-
tence. Maurice said, "The teacher makes the school. If the teachers are
incapable, have little culture and no training, if they have no enthusiasm or
professional ethics and are not guided by an educational philosophy to
which they adhere, there will not be real schools, and the money provided
for them will be a total loss."
The survey showed that almost half the schools were in a poor state.
Moreover, most belonged to private proprietors. The best rooms were
usually taken by the directress or teacher. (Most of the urban schools were
taught and directed by women.) Half the school benches were for one or
two and at most for three pupils, yet often occupied by five children. Most
of the benches, like all the other school furniture, were old, if they existed
at all. Walls were empty and classrooms unattractive. Most of the black-
boards needed blackening.
As to the school materials, most of the children attending the 134 public
primary schools were from needy families, so they could not buy the
minimum necessary for school work. "It," Maurice said, "was up to the state
to provide this." Yet according to the direction and teaching staffs of these
schools, first, the little given by the authorities was unequally distributed
and if the material were divided among the 134 schools having over 13,000
children it meant 2 boxes of chalk, 5 pencils, 24 notebooks, 3 pens, and less
than two small bottles of ink for each school. As to books, 4 arithmetic texts
and 2 geographies had been received. The few books used were imported
mostly from France and not meaningful to young Haitians. Those were the
As to the teachers, of the 499 teachers only 138 women and men
teachers had normal school diplomas. Five had certificates of pedagogic
aptitude of secondary school level and 72 did come from the post-primary
Catholic School of Elie Dubois, where they had taken courses in pedagogy.
Altogether 306 teachers had studied-the equivalent of a certificate of the
sixth-grade level through the last year of high school-but no one had
courses in teaching.
Those teachers not among the 306 mentioned were given a very simple
test. One hundred and fifty-eight took the exam. (Eighty-one refused or
pleaded illness.) Of those, 126, or 78 percent, obtained 50 or less out of a
possible 100. Only 6 had a higher score than 70. There were 24 who
understood nothing. What picture would the 81 not taking the test give? The
survey stated: "This is the ransom of politics and administrative negligence.
It explains many things. If there were no other teachers, it is half an excuse.
But there are teachers trained at the State's expense who are anxious to be
employed." There were more serious charges mentioned that proved how
necessary the survey was.
Another anomaly revealed was the unequal distribution of teachers. In
one school there were fourteen teachers for about sixty pupils; in another,
ten teachers for the same number. "If one estimates that it is usual that a
teacher have a class of 21 pupils one can judge the situation. The department
of public instruction has become the department of social service or assis-
tance," wrote Maurice. The incompetent and least-prepared needed dismiss-
al; then for those who remained salaries could be raised, and thus better
teachers would be attracted. Not only that; in the schools with such teacher-
pupil ratios one would think that the results at the certificate exams would
be brilliant. Not in the least, because the so-called teachers were so ill
prepared to teach.
On the results of the survey measures were taken immediately.
Maurice, as he had done with the cleaning up of the rural school situation,
instituted hiring through examination. He insisted on the taking of atten-
dance, the enforcement of a regular schedule, discipline, and teacher self-
discipline. School buildings and furniture were repaired. School materials
were sent, as were explanatory pamphlets, to help initiate the teachers as to
how the new system worked. Useless posts were eliminated, some personnel
transferred. There was apprehension, confusion, and problems with these
last measures. Meetings were held to explain the change and answer
In the summer of 1942 a certain number of teachers took the summer
courses organized for them. These included Psychology, Methodology,
Principles of Education, Manual Arts, Principles of Home Economy, Child
Care, Physical Culture, and Ethnology. The teachers were taken to visit
Damien, Martissant, and the Museum of Ethnology. Of course this one
month of intensive courses was far from enough, as Maurice himself
admitted, but he hoped that the courses could give the teachers a certain idea
of what teaching involved and open their eyes to the seriousness, the
complexity, and the importance of their chosen profession. Ten apprentice
teachers in their last year at the School of Elie Dubois also attended.
Maurice reasoned that it was essential to put the public primary schools
on a solid and serious basis. He insisted that the primary school constituted
the foundation of the educational system; not only because for children
going on to further studies primary studies were a requirement, but also, he
noted, because for the majority it was all the schooling they would have.
Therefore, it was imperative to give the pupils a minimum of knowledge:
"Moreover, it is in the primary school that a common culture is engendered,
and a social and national solidarity is inculcated." His aim was not only to
have the three R's taught and learned, but also to have developed in all
citizens a common base of habits, ideas, and ideals.
At the same time Maurice and his collaborators proposed to reorganize
the whole administrative structure of the general direction of urban educa-
tion. At the head of the different services would be placed as qualified a
specialist as could be found at that time in Haiti. A corps of inspectors,
serious and as familiar as possible with the principles and methods of
modern education, would be chosen, but the number reduced to be able to
pay better salaries and expenses. The division of the large towns into zones
and the fusion of the very small schools into a larger one in the same zone
were carried out. Among other changes, a new program was to be created
to better respond to the children's needs, a better way of teaching promoted.
Other points have already been discussed, and through the annual reports
that he had made for urban education as he had for rural education Maurice
noted what had been accomplished.
Time was taken to discuss the survey and the steps initiated to amelio-
rate the situation. What the survey also showed was what the education
ministers before Maurice had not done. In some measure this must have
upset these men, who, although they had had the opportunity to do so, either
dared not or didn't possess the know-how to attack the problems.
So in October 1941 changes took place. Repairs were begun; materials
were sent to the schools. Flags were hoisted, with the same salute and hymn
as in the rural schools. The teachers were gratified to receive so much
material. Some exclaimed that they had never seen so much.
One of the most important realizations was the raising of salaries. The
lowest were raised from fifty to sixty gourdes a month. Maurice meant to
raise them every year if he could, to encourage and motivate the teachers.
He also put in a research and statistic service in the various sections of the
Maurice probably hurt feelings when he reorganized the service of
inspection. Up to that time the inspectors for the most part had been given
the posts through favoritism. It is true that some were educated men, even
doctors and lawyers, but they knew little of the work the post implied and
had no pedagogical competence. From July 1941 on, inspectors were
selected after examination of their curricula vitae and their experience and
without political recommendation, a decision that honored the president. In
this service, too, Maurice insisted on a schedule, regular visits, and reports.
He held a meeting in January 1942 to give the new inspectors directives and
in July 1942 gathered them together for a month's course at Damien. At the
head of the urban primary school department he appointed a specialist,
Morriseau Leroy, trained at Teachers' College, Columbia University.
Some physical education had been introduced by a former minister,
but a program had not been systematically organized. A specialist was put
in charge. The teachers came together in groups to be initiated in means and
methods. In the summer courses begun in 1942, physical culture had its
place in the program. The teachers were asked to carry out a simple program
of exercises and games.
Some of what has been written above concerning the program put in
action was gleaned from the first annual report put out by Maurice and his
services. The title of the report was The Results of the First Year of the
Reform 1941-1942. In it is discussed activities of the various sections of
the Department of Urban Education.
The Trade Schools
Noting that the primary schools were showing signs of revival and
progress, Maurice and his collaborators attacked the schools where trades
were taught. Of course a survey and investigation were first made. There
were two such schools in Port-au-Prince: L'Ecole Central des Arts et des
Metiers (Central School of Arts and Trades) and the school of J. B. Damier.
There was a trade school in each of the following cities: Cape Haitian,
Cayes, Jeremie, Gonaive, and Jacmel. It was found that even in these
schools there was no fixed program and that the machines donated and
placed by the Americans before 1934 were unusable. They had been left to
rust. They were neglected and even ignored. Most lessons had been in
theory. The teachers who were supposed to teach and handle the machines
were incompetent. Some had no manual capacities and yet they had been
employed. As to tools for woodworking, leather and metal work, there were
The Central School housed 110 boarding students. Although the food
was adequate and good, the students slept on straw mats spread on the floor.
The showers and toilets were in very poor condition. Immediately beds and
bedding were bought and repairs made to the showers and toilets.
In a certain sense the trade schools were more difficult to reorganize
than the primary urban schools, as the teachers here had to know how to
man the machines and show they had mastered the art of the trades they
taught, as well as have a well-planned program of development. Moreover,
the materials, the tools, and the machines were much more expensive and
were difficult to obtain, as more and more shipping was disturbed due to
the war (with the sinking of ships by enemy U-boats), which pushed prices
up. Only a very small group could be taught at one time at any machine.
The schools were closed temporarily except the Central School (be-
cause of boarders) in order to reorganize, repair what could be repaired, and
replace what had to be replaced if a real program was to go on. The
incompetent teachers were dismissed; the others were sent to the Salesian
Brothers School of Trades to take their trade courses for six months. The
directors who were serious and capable of being trained were sent to
Hampton and Tuskegee, higher-training schools in the United States. Be-
cause of the cost of the machines for teaching, not all trades were to be
taught in all the schools. A study was made to learn what trades were the
most needed so as to provide for them.
Five young men were chosen (one from each geographical department
of Haiti) to take courses in the United States in carpentry and woodwork,
masonry, electricity, plumbing, and electrical installations. In Haiti most of
these trades had been taught through apprenticeship-learning by doing
only. A young sculptor in wood also was sent to Hampton, then to an art
school in New York City.
The same procedure was carried out for the school ofJ. B. Damier and
those in the other towns. It is certain that with all the fervor of change around
them the teachers must have been worried that their daily routines would
be completely disturbed. They understood that if they wanted to keep their
posts they would have to work much harder, really know their subjects, and
keep learning and perfecting themselves; otherwise they would have to look
for another job. Perhaps this was one of the reasons that there were negative
reactions in some quarters.
The schools were reopened on the return of the four directors of the
trade schools and the teachers from the courses they had taken with the
Salesian Brothers and as soon as the necessary equipment was ready in the
schools. Before the schools were opened, a meeting took place in Port-au-
Prince with the directors to study measures to guarantee the proper func-
tioning of these establishments. Here are some of the measures: Only
students having a certificate of having finished primary studies would be
accepted. (Formerly boys with almost no schooling, if any, were entered.
With no background and no education it was difficult for them to follow the
program.) Only properly equipped workshops would be used; schedules
would be adhered to; administrative controls would be regularly made, as
well as the taking of an inventory at regular intervals. From now on the
schools were to give a seriously thought-out training.
As the reforms in the primary schools were encouraging, Maurice
looked into conditions in the secondary schools. It was at this level in these
schools that the "elite" was formed, through classical studies of French
origin, with Latin and Greek as essential parts of the studies.
In March 1942 a survey was launched (as for all the other types of
schools that had come under Maurice's control) to learn how and with what
kind of teachers they functioned, how the teachers were recruited, their
competence, the state of the premises, the pedagogical methods employed,
and the way the schools worked in general.
The first measures recommended in July 1942 were the following:
(1) The dismissal of all teachers who had not finished their secondary
school studies, except those who through personal study and recog-
nized efforts had acquired a high degree of culture.
(2) The dismissal of the incompetent teachers and those who were noto-
(3) Suppression of certain posts, such as that of tutor, to be replaced by
substitutes with certain duties who could step in during absences of
the titulary instructors and eventually be named to a permanent post
when a vacancy occurred.
(4) The appointment of an assistant director to second the director.
(5) The appointment of teachers through competitive examinations or
(6) The sending abroad of the lyc6e directors for more training for at least
(7) Special courses to be given to the teachers and grants for study abroad
(8) The organization of the schedule and work of the teachers for more
Program and Methods Where possible, the subjects were to be grouped
in sections or departments for more efficiency. A committee of specialists
for the elaboration of a new program and a better-structured organization
of secondary education would be formed not later than November 1942.
Only the "B" sections (Latin and sciences) in the lyc6es in the provinces
would be maintained and better teaching methods for the learning of English
and later of Spanish would be introduced. A special place in the new
program was to be accorded for the study of civics, the study of the
geography and history of Haiti, then the study of North and South America.
The buildings and grounds were to be repaired and enough materials
acquired for teaching, including laboratories for physical and natural sci-
The Realization of the Objectives All that was recommended as concerns
the personnel was carried out except for those teachers who were near
retirement and were kept so that they would receive their pensions. Those
tutoring were replaced by substitutes. The recruitment for these posts was
done through competition. Promotions were given based on merit and
seniority and not automatically nor through favoritism or political influence.
That is why those who had sinecures and were articulate began to write
against the reforms.
All salaries at all levels were raised. One of the important objectives
was to have a one-month course of in-service training during the summer
for all teachers in the public secondary schools, with foreign professors and
Haitian specialists (more on this later).
In the provinces, Section "A" (literature, Greek and Latin), judged too
literary, was replaced by Section "B" and by Section "C" in Jacmel and
Cape Haitian. The students who desired Section "A" were to be sent to
Port-au-Prince to study. The subjects' being regrouped permitted the teach-
ers to specialize in one of the subjects, such as natural or social sciences,
mathematics, etc. The study of natural sciences was encouraged by the
setting up of simple laboratories in the lyc6es of Cape Haitian, Gonaive,
Jacmel, and Jeremie. The ones in Port-au-Prince were refitted. It was in
1943 that a businessman, Oswald Brandt, donated $10,000 to build and
equip a new laboratory for the Lyc6e Petion. It was the first time that such
a gesture had been made for the amelioration of education in Haiti. At its
opening he was thanked by Maurice in the name of the government at an
The study of English was made obligatory by a decree issued on March
30, 1942. Maurice hoped that the study of Spanish would become more
common. It seemed reasonable to include these languages in the curriculum
with the United States and Canada (bilingual) to the north and Latin America
(apart from Brazil) to the south and west, not to speak of the next-door
neighbor the Dominican Republic and Cuba across the Windward Passage.
True, French was and is the official language and the language of the
educated class, but this fact did not need to exclude the other two languages.
Even in the forties there were already sufficient contacts, especially with
the United States, to warrant the teaching of these languages.
Thanks to the Office of Coordination of Inter-American Affairs of the
United States, an accord was signed between the Haitian and American
governments through a department of this branch of the U.S. State Depart-
ment, the Inter-American Educational Foundation, to have a mission of
American teachers come for from one to three years to help train Haitian
teachers to better teach English. The head of this mission was Mercer Cook.
He became a life-long friend, as did his wife, Vashti. Later he would become
the first Afro-American to head the Voice of America in Paris and one of
the first such to represent the United States as ambassador to Mali and then
to Senegal after the independence of those countries. We renewed contacts
with them in Paris and Senegal.
One of the American teachers taking part in this mission was Dewitt
Peters. He may have been a teacher of English in this circumstance, but his
real profession was that of a painter, a watercolorist. It is he who discovered
the unrecognized natural artistic talents of the Haitian people. He resigned
from the mission and put all his efforts into creating an art center. He
interested a group of young, educated Haitians, artists and others, to work
for this project. This is the origin of Haitian naive or primitive art. The group
either was sent or came on its own to ask Maurice for financial aid. From
his budget he took funds to pay the rental of a large house in the center of
town for the Centre d'Art. It opened in 1944. Dewitt Peters headed it for
many years. The center is still active and has encouraged and nurtured not
only primitive but modern painting, as well as sculpture in wood, stone, and
metal. It was only in 1989, with the second edition of the book Haitian Arts
(La Peinture Haitienne) published by Nathan in Paris and put together by
Marie Jos6 Nadal and Gerald Bloncourt, that Maurice's gesture was ac-
Back to the American mission. It carried out its program. At its
termination it produced booklets consisting of excerpts of American litera-
ture, which were distributed to the Haitian teachers of English for use in
their classes. Some of the Haitian teachers went to the United States for
study for short periods. (With the growth of tourism, use of American
English progressed among the populace and later the increasing exodus of
Haitians to the United States accelerated the learning of English, often
without benefit of school studies.)
It was at this time that two accords were signed, one with the French
government for the creation of the French Institute of Haiti (for cultural
purposes) and one with the American government for the opening of the
American Institute to promote relations between Haiti and the United States.
These are still functioning. Through the years they have been, especially the
French Institute, a great addition to the cultural life of the country.
The reform of the secondary school program was retarded by more
urgent problems. However, in the summer courses a better way of teaching
both the geography and history of Haiti was demonstrated and the introduc-
tion of the study of South America was welcomed. Another change in the
program would be to have workshops for woodwork, electricity, and book-
The Results of the Second Year of Reform, 1942-43
It was felt that the results of the second year of the three-year plan were
positive: "One of the conditions sine qua non for the success of the plan
resided in the choice of personnel, honest, competent, devoted individuals,
interested in their profession, who had brought their integrity, their knowl-
edge and their zeal to the work undertaken." President Lescot showed great
merit in encouraging that the appointments be made on the basis of univer-
sity diplomas and/or competitive examinations. "If this practice is main-
tained in the future it will have considerable repercussion on the
development and progress in education in Haiti," said Maurice. Alas! After
his departure and the change in government in January 1946, the old habits
and old ways eventually reappeared.
During this school year a look was taken into the private vocational
schools preparing the young for the commercial world. It was quickly
realized that the preparation was quite inadequate for the jobs open in
business. Since these schools were important for the economy of the
country, it was decided that they should be better controlled. To this end a
decree was taken in 1943 that permitted the section of urban professional
education to collaborate closely with the directors of these commercial
schools to bring what they offered up-to-date and make it more effective.
This governmental initiative was applauded by a good number of the
directors of these schools, happy for the technical aid from which they could
benefit at present.
It was in 1942-43 that the teaching in Creole in the first two years of
public primary schools began. Creole had always been used orally by
teachers to facilitate the comprehension of many children who on coming
to school encountered French for the first time or had had only simple,
imperfect French, as Creole was the language of the people. The educated
class knew it from birth, too, and used it in all contacts with the uneducated.
The ambition of the uneducated parents was to have their children learn
French, which was the gateway to upward mobility.
On the other hand, it was argued that before the children could learn
French they had to understand what they were learning. In using Creole,
which was the only language of 90 percent of the population, the teacher
could better initiate the children into school life before introducing French
as the school language.
The Creole language was constituted during the seventeenth century,
built from the vocabulary of the filibusters, the buccaneers, the inhabitants,
and the slaves. According to J. B. Remain, it is a mixture of Africanisms,
French, and a few Marcorix terms (the language of the Arawak Indians), as
well as some English and Spanish. Very early teachers tried to formulate a
program starting with Creole. One of the first was the grammar put together
by F Doret in French and Creole, another by the preacher Holly published
in 1931 with a phonetics orthography, and another by Suzanne C. Sylvain
for her doctoral dissertation, Haitian Creole-Morphology and Syntax
(Waterson, Belgium, 1936). However, each had his own way of writing
Creole. It was only a few years before that a vocabulary was finally written
based on the ideas of the preacher Frank Lauback in concurrence with Dr.
Charles Pressoir. Lauback used phonetics, Pressoir an approach to the
French language. (Personally, I am for the latter, as the Creole as now written
is far removed from French and makes for a completely different language,
which does not help children to learn French.)
The teaching in Creole was a pilot project in the schools. It also became
a project to teach adults to read and write. Maurice had a committee formed
including those who advocated Creole, those who had written the grammars,
and those who would go about putting the project into action. A bureau was
created, meetings held, booklets on how to teach put out. Large teaching
posters were put up in the evening schools, volunteers were found to teach.
Five thousand copies of a newspaper in Creole were published. Near
Port-au-Prince, where the population had had contacts with pictures in
magazines and on billboards, the posters were understood. In the mountains,
far from the city, the comprehension was less evident as the peasants had
little, if any, contact with the written word or printed images. Many could
not translate reality to that which was on a piece of paper. However, some
volunteer teachers were successful and in the area of Croix des Bouquets
near Damien about four hundred illiterates were taught to read or at least
sign their names that year.
The various reforms and innovations seemed to be assimilated by the
directors of the schools. They understood that it was important to encourage
student initiative, to promote a sense of social service, and that it was time
to gradually abandon old methods of recitation, including excessive memo-
rization, for discussion and investigation and the adoption of a project
method. These could be applied even in primary schools. It was also
important to help the students to auto-discipline, cooperation and participa-
tion in certain tasks of interest to the whole school.
All the reforms were not to the liking of everyone, especially those
who lost their posts and those who had been happy as things had been and
those of the "humanist" group who thought that classical studies were the
only ones that could form an "educated" person. Beginning in 1942 some
of the articulate individuals launched a veritable tempest through the press.
Although only a few articles are preserved, a list was found in the corre-
spondence as to the number and dates. The debate was so heated that in one
month there appeared twenty-eight articles in the various newspapers for
and against "Dartigue and his reforms!," the most violent being that in the
Nouvelliste, which referred to Maurice as "The Master of Masters" because
of his M.A. degree. Its proprietor had been disappointed in not having a
proposition concerning a soya bean project accepted by the minister of
agriculture, Maurice. From then on there was a constant barrage of misin-
formation and deliberate misinterpretation of the various phases of the
reforms. Maurice refused to be intimidated and was backed by President
Lescot, who must be congratulated for his steadfastness.
Already in 1930 the Moton Commission sent by the United States
Department of Education had pointed out this lack of adaptation of the
secondary schools in Haiti to the needs of the country, especially, it was
noted, as they were deficient in the teaching of natural sciences.
While Maurice was director of rural education there was some oppo-
sition to the reforms in rural schools but not the incessant attacks. Of course
at that time he dealt with the education of the peasants, far away. Those in
the city did not feel threatened. Now he was in the heart of town, interfering
with their own treasured education. For some it was too much.
As stated earlier, it was decided by Maurice and the president to open
the first secondary school for girls. This was a momentous event. Never
before had it been thought that girls could and should go on to higher studies.
Now the secondary school would permit them to do this. Maurice stated,
"The secondary school for girls responds to the actual social climate and is
necessary." It opened in the fall of 1943. Since then hundreds of young
women have become professionals, especially in the fields of medicine,
education, law and even architecture and engineering, thanks to Maurice,
who opened the way.
The first forty young ladies were admitted at the troisieme in the French
system and tenth grade in the American system or senior high school. A
Haitian woman was appointed to be its directress. It had the same curriculum
as the young men's school, but with domestic science and child care added.
It may be interesting to give the results of the baccalaureate examina-
tions for the year 1942-43. There were 365 candidates for the first part, of
whom 128 succeeded. Of the 165 candidates for the "philosophy" (the final
year), 108 were admitted. It must be noted that only 1,353 students were
registered in the whole of the national public lyc6es. This meant that most
candidates came from the private parochial or secular schools.
Either in 1943 or 1944 the questions for the baccalaureate in Cape
Haitian were leaked or sold to a certain group. Notified of the possibility,
Maurice carried out an investigation. The culprits were found. Very severe
sanctions were taken, and the examinations were held a second time. It
angered and upset Maurice that he could no longer have full confidence in
all the personnel of his services. Whether this action was carried out to
discredit the reforms or for venal purposes was not divulged. Maurice could
not tolerate what he felt was a betrayal of the principles and aims of honesty,
integrity, and self-discipline that he had been trying all these years to
inculcate in his fellow workers and his compatriots.
As with the reforms in the other categories of schools, one of the first
tasks was to organize the administration and create different sections for
more efficiency and control. Those who did not have the baccalaureate were
dismissed, as well as those who were beyond retirement age. Maurice sent
some of the personnel abroad for training in the different branches of
administration and sciences. He raised the salaries of the substitutes to 150
gourdes and those of the regular teachers to 220 gourdes. By a better
partition of the work and hours and the reduction of the number of teachers
he was able to do this. Competition for jobs was obligatory and a vice
principal appointed to aid the director for a better control of studies,
attendance, and discipline.
Inventory of the furniture and material was taken and a surveillance
instituted. Monthly reports were demanded, which indicated attendance of
both the students and their teachers. Programs were changed inasmuch as
the local geography and Haitian history were to be studied before the
French. This should have been done long before.
These measures seem autocratic and authoritarian, but there was such
disorder, such negligence, such laxity, that they were deemed necessary to
overcome these failings.
To have better, more competent guidance personnel Maurice sent three
young men to study at Hampton Institute and to Teachers' College. Maurice
said, "They won't be experts, but at least they will have learned how to
By a law decree voted September 25, 1944, the government decided
to affect 20 percent of the surplus of the communal receipts for the execution
of a plan of public primary school construction in all the communes of the
republic and 10 percent for the creation of a university center.
Maurice defended his reforms with tenacity. In one of his reports he
Was it necessary or not to extirpate politics from public instruction?
Was it necessary or not to entrust the directional posts to specialists,
taken from the higher echelon of personnel having received special
training in recognized universities? Was it necessary or not to put
together a corps of inspectors in the same way? Was it necessary or
not to establish order, discipline, hierarchy and regularity in all schools
and at all levels? Was it necessary or not to reform the Normal
Schools? Was it not necessary to introduce seriousness and honesty in
public examinations? Was it not necessary to house the schools better
and aim for a program of school construction? Was it not necessary to
furnish the schools with adequate furniture and necessary teaching
materials as the budget permits? Was it necessary or not to introduce
honesty, economy and control in the administration of public funds
allocated to the Ministry of Public Instruction? Was it not necessary
to have a system of Statistics and card files of the personnel so that
the Department would not be in ignorance of elementary information
of its own Administration? Was it necessary or not to dismiss the
incompetent and try to ameliorate the personnel in service so as to
have a more efficient professional corps imbued with the problems of
education, a corps which Haiti needs to resolve to get out of the social,
economic and cultural stagnation in which it has allowed more than
75% of the population to stay? Was it necessary or not to try to organize
a system of National Education taking into consideration the aspira-
tions of the Haitian people? Should a technical elite have been formed
or should we have resigned ourselves indefinitely to having to call in
foreigners? Those who have worked courageously for the reforms may
wait for the judgement of history with confidence. [The only possible
answer to all these questions could be "Of course it was necessary."]
Secondary Education, 1943-44
The reorganization was carried out quite well during 1942-43 in spite
of the attacks and discontent of some. This permitted the section of secon-
dary school education of the department to consolidate in 1943-44 the
(1) Control of teacher and student attendance.
(2) The professional amelioration of the teachers in service since 1942
and those hired through competitive exams.
(3) Distribution of class materials.
(4) Upkeep of the school premises.
(5) The added activities without which the lyc6es would have continued
to be no more than institutions of academic learning instead of centers
of education for youth and the community, which they are becoming.
("The effect of the effort to vitalize secondary education will be shown
in the social and civic behavior of the new generation of graduates,"
(6) The reorganization and the reform of the program by the committee
In October 1943 a series of circulars were sent to directors and teachers
of lyc6es with the following directives:
(1) To organize committees to discuss the program: languages and litera-
ture, social sciences, physical and natural sciences, art and plastic arts,
hygiene, physical education, and recreation at the different class
levels. (It is likely that Maurice was trying to have the teachers
participate actively in the workings of the school, to learn to work in
and as a team rather than just give their courses in isolation, without
contact and without interest in the welfare of the school.)
(2) To make a survey to determine the professions and trades that students
desire to enter on graduating.
(3) To try to learn the number of dropouts and the reasons for their leaving
without finishing their studies.
(4) To prepare teaching material in the social sciences.
(5) To collaborate with the teachers having tenure in putting together a
plan of studies and a distribution of a schedule for the different school
It was hoped that these directives would encourage the teachers to meet
and do research in education to accept the necessity of certain modifications
in the programs (organization of the work in the laboratory, the repartition
of the courses, the amelioration of methods, etc.). The groups of teachers in
social sciences in the different schools sent lists to the section of the
administration concerned with the subject, of what they needed for better
teaching of social sciences. These included books, manuals, large sheets of
cardboard, and boxes of crayons for the preparation of diagrams to better
illustrate their courses.
It could not but be evident that the life of the schools was changing
from the former inertia. It became much more diversified for the students
with the installation of laboratories, the introduction of manual arts, the
preparation of expositions of all kinds, music, physical education, art, etc.
The teachers gave the students opportunities to show their talents and
initiative and be appreciated by their peers.
That year there were several special activities in the secondary schools,
which demonstrated the awakening of the students to their abilities and
sense of responsibility. In different towns they assumed the direction of
different activities. In Jeremie and Cape Haitian they took on the responsi-
bility for the celebration of the anniversary of the consecration of Notre
Dame de Perp6tuel Secours (Our Lady of Perpetual Succor), the patron saint
of Haiti, on December 8. A public concert led by the brass band of the
students of the Jacmel lyc6e on the public square Toussaint L'Ouverture was
held on the same day. An assembly of students and teachers was held on the
closing day of the first trimester. A Christmas tree was set up at the Lyc6e
Petion in Port-au-Prince with a distribution of clothing, shoes, candies, and
refreshments. A medical service was set up at the Jeremie lyc6e with the
effective collaboration of the head of the hygiene service of the town. (The
lyc6e club donated money to buy medicines for their comrades in need.) A
weekly get-together (Friday afternoons) of the members of the English clubs
of these lyc6es took place to put on programs of music, literature, and games.
There also were organized conferences, receptions, sport events, and ama-
At the Cape Haitian lyc6e the students worked to fix up the school.
They also repaired the streets surrounding it. In all the lyc6es Tree Day was
celebrated with talks on the dangers of erosion, with the planting of trees
taking place. Finally the ceremony marking the one hundredth year of the
Lyc6e Philippe Guerrier of Cape Haitian took place with imposing mani-
festations. Never before had the students taken such an active part, working
together, in the school and for the school.
As has been stated several times and cannot be stated enough, politics
were totally banished from school appointments. Little by little the com-
petitive exams made for a healthier disciplinary climate. No longer were
posts sinecures. They were gained and kept by hard work and dependability.
Moreover, through the reorganization of the administration into responsible
branches the teachers were better controlled, but they too benefited, as they
now had more direct contact with the branch of the Department of Education
in which they were concerned.
As soon as the young people sent abroad for training returned they
were integrated into the personnel, permitting others to go abroad for a year
or at least to attend summer school in various universities in Canada, the
United States, Puerto Rico, or Mexico.
* 81 grants in 1941-42
* 68 grants in 1942-43 (11 students would remain a second year)
* 61 grants in 1943-44 (the figures for 1944-45 are unavailable)
These figures are very important when one considers how small the
number of graduates of secondary school was, how low the budget was, and
what the situation was in the United States. It must be said that some grantees
paid most of their expenses, but in some cases salaries were paid and the
grantees had the backing of the government, which facilitated their depar-
ture and their standing in the training schools to which they were sent.
Moreover of the 61 grants obtained in 1943-44 the Haitian government
offered 31 and the others were given by the American government or private
institutions in the United States and Canada.
Not all who could have profited from study abroad could be sent. To
offset this, Maurice instituted summer courses for secondary school teach-
ers in Port-au-Prince, an outstanding innovation. For these courses he was
able to bring to Haiti professors from abroad through contacts and use
Haitian professors with European degrees. A special one was Auguste
Viatte, a French Swiss, with degrees from the University of Fribourg and
the Sorbonne in French literature. Maurice had met him at International
House in New York City in 1927, when Viatte was teaching at City College.
He admitted that Maurice was the first educated nonwhite he had met. He
was so impressed that he became interested in the French-speaking peoples
outside of Europe, those of the Caribbean, the other French possessions,
and Canada. He came to Haiti with his bride in 1934 or 1935 and from that
time on made repeated trips there. He developed a real passion for collabo-
ration and cooperation between French-speaking peoples. He made a name
for himself in this matter. (At the time he came for the summer courses he
was teaching at the University of Laval in Quebec.) He wrote books on the
subject as well as on the literature of French-speaking countries beyond or
outside of France. He included Haiti in these studies, making its literature
known to the rest of the French-speaking world. His first books were
Histoire Litteraire de I'Amirique Frangaise des Origines a 1950 (Paris:
Presses de l'Universit6 de Laval, Quebec, and PUF, 1954) and L'Anthologie
Litteraire de l'Amerique Francophone (Sherbrooke, Canada: CELEF,
1971). Viatte took part in or helped create French clubs. Such a one was the
Association France-Haiti, which he set up in 1954 with the collaboration of
the Haitian ambassador at that time, Gen. Frank Lavaud, former chief of the
Haitian army and interim head of the Haitian government after the fall of
the government of Elie Lescot in January 1946.
Back to the summer courses in 1943. Here is a testimonial that
appeared after the death of my husband in July 1983 (forty years later). It
appeared in the Septentrion, a Cape Haitian newspaper, in October 1983.
Its title was, "The Maurice Dartigue I Knew," and it was written by Eric F
Etienne. It starts with the reforms Maurice undertook to "establish a more
realistic program and more propitious for inculcating a culture more appro-
priate to the needs and mentality of our fellow citizens and extend the
programs to the immense majority of backward Haitians and in this fashion
lay down on a firm foundation the eventual development of Haiti."
The author of this article then recounts under what circumstances he
met Maurice for the first time, which gave him "once and for all, the just
measure, never modified nor tarnished since, of the real stature of the man."
Having learned that there would be summer courses held for public secon-
dary school teachers, although he was a teacher in a private school, Etienne
wanted very much, after having consulted the program, to participate. Only
forty-eight hours remained to register. Taking the time to pack a few
belongings and find transportation in a primitive, overcrowded, overloaded
bus that took from fifteen to twenty-four hours and even more to travel from
Cape Haitian to Port-au-Prince, he was on his way. When he arrived one
hour before the closing of the registry he was told that the courses were open
only for teachers of the national public secondary schools. Etienne ex-
plained the circumstances to the section head, who answered that only the
minister could make an exception.
Having been told of my situation, Maurice Dartigue received me
immediately and looking at me intensely said these words: "Do you
know that what you are doing at this moment is something unheard of
as well as encouraging for the initiative of my Department? While
some of the teachers of the national lyc6es invent all sorts of excuses
to escape the obligation to come for the four weeks at the expense of
the government, you, a teacher in a private school, invited only but
not obligated to participate, you show a wonderful spirit in wanting to
be with us." At the same moment he gave instructions to have me
registered, which was done at the expense of the government.
Etienne was reimbursed for the transportation costs and was lodged
and nourished as were the others.
This anecdote reveals that not all teachers were in favor of the summer
courses. Perhaps they thought they didn't need them or had other things
planned or simply wanted to forget school, classes, and programs. It also
reveals the narrow horizons they had to let pass by opportunities to encoun-
ter others and to partake of the activities and especially the offerings of the
professors from abroad.
The courses were a success and were the first step toward the continued
training of teachers of secondary schools. The students of the other college-
level schools were invited to the conferences.
During the summer courses of 1944, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, an eminent
black American, historian, professor of sociology, and one of the founders
of NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, the spearhead for the fight for equality in the American economic
and social system), gave a talk: "The Conception of Education." He was not
afraid to say, "The truth is that your cultural elite with all its realizations
does not in any way approach the grandeur which it could have known had
it helped the masses to education, health and the richness of your culture."
Perhaps Maurice should have given more information to the public
concerning some of the reforms. He had the national library closed, as it
was in disrepair. Water seepage and lack of care for the few books made it
look abandoned. Fortunately, in a few months it was opened again, the
building having been repaired, repainted in and out, new shelving made, a
new card filing system put in, and a new director installed. Compared to
libraries in the United States it was very small, with a limited number of
books, magazines, and newspapers. There was some criticism but no great
outcry during the time it was closed.
However, after a survey of the municipal libraries in other towns that
revealed the very poor conditions as to the physical plant, the state of the
books, their number, and the kind of person who was in charge, Maurice
decided to close them, but he had the books transferred to the libraries of
the lyc6es in each town. Whether he meant to repair the municipal libraries
and return the books is not clear. The outcry was violent: "Dartigue has
closed the libraries!" "Dartigue is depriving the people." This was deliberate
misinformation, as the libraries were open in their new locations.
The life of the schools became more animated with the multiplication
of social activities in the sense of service, public manifestations, recreational
gatherings, and interschool sports. Flag Day was celebrated by all schools
so that the population could become aware of this symbol of the unity of
the nation. This manifestation was the occasion for a town parade and
interschool sports competitions.
Tree Day also became very important. Maurice carried out with the
Service National de la Production Agricole at Damien a program of tree
planting. Damien provided the young trees; the schools, with the help of the
agricultural agents, did the planting in chosen areas. Even the president took
part on that special day. Trees were planted and had the program gone on
perhaps the mountains and the plains would not be as denuded as they are
today. Deforestation was already a problem in Haiti. It was necessary to
insist on and demonstrate the replacement of trees. Moreover, terracing also
was undertaken. The peasants had the habit of planting in rows, beginning
at the top of the hillside and moving straight down. This way of planting
made for topsoil depletion, with the rains carrying it away. It was hard work
convincing the peasants used to traditional ways, but was hoped that through
the school and the agents the peasants would adopt better soil-retaining
The annual inter-American competition for the best essay on a subject
of interest to Latin America must be included in the activities. Thirteen
secondary schools partook in this event. The two best essays from each
school were sent to a jury of notables that met at the School of Law in
Port-au-Prince between May 10 and May 15 that year to read and judge the
twenty-six essays. The theme was "Printing and Economic Freedom in Latin
America." The jury selected the essay of a student in Rhetorique (next to
last year) at the lyc6e of Jeremie and that of a student in his final year at the
Lyc6e Petion in Port-au-Prince as winners of the contest.
In 1943-44 there were 405 candidates registered for the first part of
the baccalaureate, with 141 succeeding, about a third of the candidates. For
the second part, of 126 candidates registered 65 received, or about a half of
those taking it. This was slightly better than the year before. The private
schools did better, for out of 117 candidates for the first part 69 succeeded
and out of 35 presented for the second part 29 made it. The students who
had studied privately did poorly. Out of 168 only 24 succeeded, and out of
39 for the second part only 8 received the degree.
It must have given Maurice and his collaborators some satisfaction to
see that the reforms for bringing up-to-date the activities and programs with
the introduction of a greater variety of subjects and the greater participation
of the teachers and the students in the life of the school had taken hold.
Though the criticisms continued, the directors, after the study trips, under-
stood the aims of the reforms better and were willing to go along with them.
As early as the school year 1941-42, Maurice took action concerning
higher education, although he had not thought to be able to do this so quickly.
He began with the law school (which underwent some repairs), and named
a lawyer, Pierre Liautaud, as director. Pierre Liautaud had received his law
degree in France and was a practicing lawyer. He was also one of our friends,
but friendship had no part in the appointment. He became director because
he was capable, serious, and responsible and shared Maurice's ideas. Pierre
cooperated in every way in promoting these ideas.
A word about the law school. It was founded in 1850 and had been
closed and opened several times, but finally became the National School of
Law in 1890. In 1941 it was housed in a recently constructed building, with
a large room for gatherings and a law library. It would be here that the
summer courses would take place, as would conferences and events of
various sorts. With the new director backed by Maurice, regular attendance
was demanded of both the professors and the students, with attendance
taken. As there was almost no information on the students of former years,
a card file was made with information on every student and a new student
record booklet given to each. The library was made more comfortable, and
some twenty-four volumes of the missing issues of the official journal Le
Moniteur (in which appeared all decrees and laws passed and appointments)
were bought, as were fifty-three books on jurisprudence. Moreover in the
spring of 1942 the library instituted an evening service to stay open from
8:00 to 11:00 p.m. to help students to prepare for exams. Some students
came from very modest homes. They often studied under streetlights.
Permitting them to study in the library in the evenings was of great help.
Salaries of the director, teachers, and other personnel were paid by the
As minister of public instruction, Maurice accorded a subsidy of 1,500
gourdes to the School of Applied Science, a private institution. Therefore,
he could in a way have a say in the manner in which the school functioned.
He desired that the school have not only qualified professors-they were
for the most part educated in France-but he wanted them to be serious in
carrying out the work they had accepted to do. He established a contract
with the Council of Deans (Conseil des Doyens, to which I shall refer later)
stipulating that one of its members must be named by the minister (by him).
It was also his ministry that paid the salaries of two of the professors.
Both Maurice and the president accorded great importance to the
preparation of cadres. The president even offered a grant to permit a member
of the teaching personnel to study abroad. Maurice continued to put aside
funds from the budget and make contacts with universities abroad for grants.
He was able to send twelve grantees to Teachers' College, five to Hampton,
and one to the University of California in 1942-43.
One of the special events of the year was the visit of Alain Locke, an
American of African descent, graduate of Harvard University, and professor
at Howard University, a university open to all but mostly attended by
nonwhites at that time. He gave a series of conferences on the theme of
civilization and democracy. One of the conferences was titled "L'Apport
des Noirs Dans la Civilisation Americaine." In English: "What the Blacks
Have Given or Brought to American Civilization." It must have worried the
white Americans in their attitude toward the blacks, for in the National
Archives in Washington I found a telegram marked "confidential" sent by
the charge d'affaires in Haiti to the State Department that stated that if these
conferences were published in the United States they would cause explosive
agitation among the American blacks.
Dr. Locke made us the gift of a beautiful book of which he was the
author. It was a study of the contribution of black painters to North American
painting, with illustrations of paintings by blacks or in which blacks were
Maurice had at heart the creation of a University of Haiti. In Haiti, even
in colonial times, there came about an elite and a group of intellectuals, but
the members had all been educated in France. It was after independence in
1804 that gradually postsecondary schools were created. In 1823 the first
law school opened its doors, then a school for medicine. This school,
renovated, is still in service. A dental school saw the light of day in 1898
and the School of Applied Science in 1902. Each one of these schools was
independent and had its own rules and regulations. In 1920, Dantes Belle-
garde, minister of education at the time, tried to bring these schools together.
But it was the efforts of Maurice that permitted the directors of these schools
to form the Council of Deans (Conseil des Doyens).
Following the decree of March 1943, this council, without modifying
the administrative relationships between the schools, played an important
role of coordination in the effort of the government to create the University
of Haiti. This was also the year that the grades in these schools were all
noted in the same manner, with 6.5 being the lowest acceptable of a possible
For the first time the diplomas of the four schools were given out to
the graduates in the presence of the president of the republic at the law
school. He gave a talk on this occasion. This ceremony, unknown even today
in France, is very impressive, with the graduate who received the highest
grades, the laureate, giving a speech and on this occasion Maurice making
a short one after the president to compliment the graduates and wish them
well. Family and friends were in the audience.
In the year 1943-44, the programs and methods continued to improve.
Plans were made to open a normal school for training teachers of the
intermediate years (junior high school), with dormitory, dining room, study
hall, library, auditorium, and classrooms. It would be used as a university
center. Maurice tried to put aside from his budget a sum to eventually buy
up properties around the schools of law, medicine, and dentistry for the
creation of a campus. The fall of the government in January 1946 would
prevent him from achieving the task he set himself. He would leave a sum
of ten thousand dollars in the ministry treasury-a unique act in the history
of Haiti. It was the first time that such a sum was put at the disposal of the
successor. Unfortunately, the sum was used for other purposes and to this
day the projected campus remains only a plan. But l'Ecole Normale Super-
ieure, the normal school was created later and functions today.
In 1944 the provisional government of the French republic sent Aimd
Cesaire (the poet and playwright of the French Antilles of whom I've
already written) to give a three-month course on French literature at the
university level. He also took part in the summer school courses. That year,
122 secondary school teachers were invited to take the courses held in the
law school. They were grouped according to their specialties: literature,
math, physical and natural science, social science, and English. The discus-
sions showed up the problems that preoccupied the teachers.
The program was carried out by both foreign and Haitian lecturers,
among them A. Viatte (for a second time); J. K. Sonntag of the University
of Michigan; Max Bond, Ph.D, University of California; Mercer Cook,
Ph.D., Brown University; and D. Blelloch, Oxford University, from ILO,
of Quebec, and Thadeus Poznanski of Laval University, also in ILO (of
these two more later). Among the Haitians were L. Hibbert, brilliant
mathematician, several times minister of finance; Dantes Bellegarde, for-
mer minister; A. Bellerive, a doctor of medicine who would later head the
WHO team in the Congo crisis; and F. Morriseau-Leroy, M.A., Teachers'
College, head of urban education, and for special conferences there were
W.E.B. Du Bois, Aim6 Cesaire, and Maurice Dartigue. It was quite a
gathering of highly qualified individuals. It is hoped that the secondary
school teachers profited from what these men had to offer them.
It may be of interest to give a few highlights of a report on one of the
conferences given by Maurice that summer and published in the review
Cahiers d'Haiti in September 1944. Its title was "Some Considerations on
Teaching Methods." He said he was not going to give a conference of the
usual type but make some remarks about what he had observed in schools
he had visited and his own experience as a student:
Methodology is the least spectacular trait of pedagogy, but one of the
most important. As in all one does, method is needed. In Haiti we form
magnificent plans, but we forget to actually put them into action and
seem to scorn details. In teaching, the methodic preparation of the
lessons and the teachers' control of the results of what he has taught
play an important role in the success of teaching.
Certainly the teacher needs first to have a philosophy of what kind
of persons he wants his students to become. The process of forming
this kind of person begins in the earliest years. It is because not enough
attention was paid from the beginning that there are so many failures
at the end. Each year is important in constructing a solid base on which
to add. Besides the knowledge that the student must gain to go higher
up, the teacher needs to develop the taste for culture. One of the
avenues is for the teacher to help the student learn how to do research
and find the information he needs. It is here that the personal qualities
of enthusiasm, sincerity, intellectual honesty of the teacher and his
culture can influence and can be communicated to the students. It is
under these conditions that teaching ceases to be a routine based on a
program of memorization of facts and ingestion of school manuals to
become an art and a science. It is here that teaching becomes creative,
and the teacher stops being a machine to become an artist.
I have brought to your attention the problem that faces the teacher
of Rhetorique [the second to last year at the end of which occurs the
examination of the first part of the BAC for which the teacher tries to
prepare his students] when he is confronted with students not having
the necessary base because not enough attention was given in the
grades leading to the "Rhetorique" to the step by step formation of this
base on which he can build. This problem can be solved through better
controls by the Administration through better testing along the way.
Tests are a means of diagnosis but never an end in themselves. If they
are used judiciously by the teacher they can be very useful for the
teacher to learn if his teaching is effective. "Testing" is an integral part
of teaching and can permit the teacher to remedy the deficiencies of
the whole class or those of individual students.
The process of education should not be just the control through
examinations at the end of the year or at the end of the 6 years leading
to the BAC but one of each week, each day. It is here that the patient,
humble, but how vital, work of daily teaching becomes decisive.
This talk shows the importance Maurice gave to the job of teaching.
There were other talks to graduating classes at Damien, at the reopened
normal school for urban teachers, and at various ceremonies. They, for the
most part, concerned the problems of education in Haiti and the urgency of
improving the lot of the teachers and of 90 percent of the population and
the part Maurice's audience had to take in this undertaking.
Minister of Agriculture and Labor,
SHADA (Societe Haitiano-Americaine du
Developpement de L'Agriculture)
As minister of agriculture, Maurice was involved in the enterprise known
as SHADA, which was founded as an expression of President Roosevelt's
Good-Neighbor policy. It was conceived as an instrument of Haitian-
American technical and economic collaboration. This undertaking came
about in the weeks that followed the election on May 15, 1941, of President
Lescot. Soon after he formed the cabinet, the president returned to Wash-
ington, where he had served as ambassador of Haiti to the United States, to
negotiate a loan to give a boost to the economy of the country. It is presumed
that talks had been going on earlier. He came back to Haiti with an accord
involving $5 million to be used in agriculture to boost the peasant economy.
The main points of the accord were as follows: SHADA was created
for the development of agriculture for the benefit of the Haitian peasants as
independent producers of agricultural products. For this project money and
some American technicians were needed. Among the aims of SHADA were
the improvement of existing products, the introduction of new products such
as spices, the extension of manual arts, and the development of Hevea, the
rubber plant mostly referred to in this study as ciyptostegia. The first idea
was that SHADA would administer some large acreages but that financial
and technical aid would be given to small landowners to cultivate inde-
pendently outside the strategic areas decided upon. Although the United
States did not declare war on Japan until December 7, 1941, rubber from
Southeast Asia was more and more difficult to obtain due to the advance of
the Japanese on land and sea. It will be seen that the planting of this crop
would take precedence over every other due to the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor and the takeover by the Japanese of the rubber plantations in
Southeast Asia. In the accord there was mention of furthering cottage
industries. Eventually an expert in these spent two years in Haiti.
Because of this urgency, the cultivation, preparation, and export of
cryptostegia would involve several U.S. government and private agencies
such as the Export-Import Bank, the Rubber Corporation, and the American
Rubber Development Corporation. Also were concerned, because of the
war, the Bureau of Domestic and Foreign Commerce, the Haitian ambassa-
dor in Washington, the American ambassador in Haiti, the Bureau of
Inter-American Affairs, the Haitian minister of agriculture, the Haitian
minister of finance and the American president director-general of SHADA;
and as a result of the war, the Bureau of Strategic Services and the Bureau
of Economic Warfare.
SHADA was not a private American company such as the Standard
Fruit or HASCO (the Haitian American Sugar Company), with profits going
to American shareholders. It was a joint governmental project. As collateral
for the $5 million loan, the Haitian government gave SHADA the right and
the profits of the exploitation of the extensive pine forest located on Mome
des Commissaires for a fifty-year period, as well as the monopoly and
exportation of ciyptostegia, which was supposed to be a fast-growing
rubber plant. The exploitation of these two products was estimated to mean
a profit of about a million dollars, which SHADA could give as guarantees
to obtain the loan of the $5 million.
President Lescot himself went on tour to urge the peasants to rent or
lease their lands as their contribution to the war effort. It is doubtful if they
gave up easily their most precious belonging. Even compensation for
renting, leasing, or outright sale would not completely reconcile them to
their loss and the upset of their lives.
Earlier in this book when the educational reforms were discussed,
SHADA was mentioned, as it concerned manual arts. Groups of students
and groups of teachers were sent to learn the techniques of weaving and
spinning. In this area, SHADA carried out one of its tasks. It also, at the
insistence of President Lescot, put aside 24,000 acres for new plantations
of sisal to be cultivated in cooperation with independent peasant growers.
SHADA also attracted teachers and pupils, making for disruption and
perturbation in the rural education service.
It also, at the beginning, made studies for the cultivation of medicinal
plants, such as citronella, and even pepper and other spices, which up to that
time had come from the Orient. These were for the most part neglected in
favor of an all-out effort to grow cryptostegia.
The accord was made into a decree in mid-August 1941, permitting
SHADA to buy 300,000 dollars' worth of materials and machines from the
engineering company J. G. White, which had just finished the dam on the
Artibonite River and was leaving Haiti.
The actual direction of SHADA was put in the hands of T. Fennell. His
right-hand man was Mr. Hill. A board of directors was created. It consisted
of three Americans, the two mentioned above and Mr. Williams, the Ameri-
can head of the Bank of Haiti. The three Haitians were Maurice, vice
president; Abel Lacroix, minister of finance, member; and Pierre Chauvet,
undersecretary of finance, member. Meetings were to be held once a month.
Mr. Darton of the Rubber Development Corporation was present at times.
At first all seemed to go well, as the correspondence is about dates and
meetings in the fall and winter of 1941. Until the beginning of the crypto-
stegia project, Fennell, president director-general, stayed within the limits
of his prerogatives. The program of action of the first year was properly
submitted to the board. Hiring was done within the limits of the budget. The
curricula vitae of the upper echelons, both Americans and Haitians, were
also submitted. Problems were discussed at the meetings and between
meetings with the minister. But immediately after the approbation of the
sisal and cryptostegia programs, the attitude and conduct of Fennell changed
It must be stated that the first year, SHADA had more than 17,000
employees, 16,580 day farm laborers, almost all Haitians, 20 Americans,
American technicians and engineers, and 398 Haitian and American tech-
nicians and supervisors, which made for progress in employment. In Sep-
tember 1942, SHADA began to produce sisal, wood from the pine forest,
some essential oils, and rubber for about $89,000. The budget for the year
foresaw the exploitation of 12,000 acres in sisal, 8,000 in Hevea, 5,000 in
various products, and 100,000 acres in ciyptostegia. This would never be,
the most acreage planted being 65,000 acres.
Naturally the Haitian members of the board had complete confidence
in Fennell and in no way wished to interfere, so that he could feel unhindered
to carry out the complex program. The board thought that at times he had
to make decisions in between meetings but would inform the board at the
next meeting. This was not the case.
In a small country like Haiti, where there were few large plantations
and thousands of peasants had but a few acres, the acquisition by rental,
lease, or sale was in itself difficult. Putting together 65 thousand acres from
all the bits of land must have been a colossal task. It could and did lead to
The land was at times expropriated from peasants without proper
proceedings in some instances to permit huge cultivating machines to
prepare the land. First, trees were cut down, gardens and huts destroyed.
Methods used to acquire the lands were not always justified. Agricultural
agents and planters sent in complaints. Maurice denounced the methods
used. Here is part of a letter he wrote to Fennell on February 16, 1943:
The representatives of SHADA must take into consideration the
mentality of the peasants and the townsmen, proprietors and their
legitimate interests. They will have to act with tact, moderation and
equity. This is not only in the moral and political interest of the
government but also of SHADA, which is not a temporary organiza-
tion but one that is to stay on in a permanent way and be called to work
with and for the peasants in view of ameliorating their standard of
living and the economy of the country. Of course there are some
unfounded complaints ...
In January he had sent a letter of condemnation of the way the overseers
were treating the peasants in some areas.
A complaint as early as October 1942 came in from the pine forest.
The overseers complained that the laborers did not work hard enough. What
the overseers did not take into consideration was the fact that the laborers
were poorly clothed and poorly housed for the cold mountain climate.
Sanitary accommodations, if any, were poor; food was a problem. The
overseers with their families were simply but adequately housed and could
have food sent in. They probably gave little thought to the workers' plight
except in that they were not furnishing the labor quota expected. Later the
laborers would go on strike and would be punished by wage losses. Maurice
would come to their defense, saying that the punishment far exceeded the
reasons for it and was illegal.
Then there came a report written in early 1943 by D. Knapp, chief of
the planting section of the American Rubber Development Corporation. He
stated that there was an increased labor shortage, also that the workers were
too slow, which could be due to deliberate slowing down or an act of
sabotage, passive resistance for personal or political gain. There were not
enough workers for tapping the plants, etc.
Knapp admitted that the Rubber Development Corporation's only
interest was to secure rubber during the emergency period, which was
1943-44, since Haiti was never considered a cheap source of rubber. The
laborers furnished only one-third to one-fifth of the American laborers' daily
quota. Not only that, but neither the land, nor the variable weather, nor the
organizational problems gave any satisfaction or encouragement to con-
tinue: "Besides some of the plants from the nurseries were improper for
planting. Proper spacing had not been observed, nor had planting weather."
He concluded that the entire program was complicated. "Contrary to origi-
nal ideas cryptostegia is a demanding plant in its requirements. Experimen-
tal planting was done in an irrigated area which has contributed to the
confusion as to where and how to grow it." As it is for the emergency of
1943-44 he stated: "What cannot be cleared by the end of the year is a waste
of money." The document reveals the cross-purposes of the two govern-
ments. For Haiti, the aim was to help the economy and the peasants. For the
United States, it was to grow rubber. Where to put the blame? Haste!
More misunderstandings were inevitable. Maurice in April 1943 wrote
to Fennell to protest the inconsiderate cutting of fruit trees by the agents of
SHADA. He urged that nurseries for fruit trees be started immediately.
Again in April, Maurice wrote to Fennell asking him to permit the peasants
in a certain area to keep their lands until after the harvest in July. Fennell
circumvented Maurice and went to President Lescot directly. Lescot gave
in to Fennell and demanded that the 20,000 acres concerned be handed over
to SHADA immediately. Although Maurice was upset, it was not so much
that Fennell had gone directly to the president, but that the president had
given way to Fennell. Reluctantly Maurice carried out the president's
The three Haitian board members took their roles seriously and felt
that Fennell did not consult them or keep them informed of his actions. It
seemed that he began to manage SHADA as if it were his private enterprise.
Maurice, as vice president, wrote to Fennell (August 24, 1943) demanding
the accounts and budget. In the letter he stated: "As we shall be asking some
questions at the next meeting of the Board, and as some questions necessi-
tate research in the account books, we think it is better to give you these
questions in advance and in writing." The questions concerned the manual
arts, the exact situation of the expenses, the receipts, the indemnities given
to those who had been expropriated or where lands had been leased or
rented, the indemnity paid for the destroyed harvests, the state of activities
in the pine forest, and the income coming from certain payments made by
the Rubber Development Corporation. Fennell did not answer this request!
Maurice, Lacroix, and Chauvet wrote to President Lescot on December
6, 1943, to explain the situation to him and the impossibility of their
controlling either income or expenditures, because they knew nothing.
Fennell had not kept them informed. Lacroix wrote a personal note dated
December 6, 1943, to the president:
My dear President,
During the day you will be receiving the letter written by Dar-
tigue, Chauvet and myself concerning the SHADA situation. I am
adding these lines to confirm to your Excellency that which I had the
honor to tell you during our conversation the evening before last, on
the same subject.
An enterprise of the scope of SHADA deserves to have at its head
a real director with all that that word implies as to prestige, authority
and executive capability. It does not seem that Mr. Fennell has these
qualities in the measure needed, which gives rise to the difficulties he
is undergoing in trying to keep order among the personnel and the
impression of instability that his administration gives. The dangers
that the enterprise runs are due to the fact that Fennell sees too big,
does not occupy himself enough with certain contingencies, gives no
importance to his responsibilities towards the Haitian government and
is impatient of all serious and thorough control.
Moreover, it cannot be denied that at the stage at which the
enterprise actually is, such a control should exist In presence of
the recent incidents and acts, I realize very clearly that the means I
have to control the enterprise, the little free time I have to do it, my
limited competence in certain matters do not appear to respond to the
extensive legal and moral responsibilities that in the actual circum-
stances the function of a member of the Board of a company of the
importance of SHADA should have...
This was a very diplomatic way of letting the president know that
Lacroix did not wish to stay on the board but also showed what he thought
of Fennell's competence.
On December 6, 1943, the Haitian board members wrote again to the
We feel it is our responsibility to let you know that the situation in
which SHADA actually finds itself necessitates an investigation fol-
lowed by a reorganization, with new directives based on the principles
and practices of a commercial administration ... The report of the
auditors and according to other information received on the budget
and the expenditures confirm their opinion that these are incorrect and
must be changed. But Mr. Fennell pretends that all is well. .. What
disturbs the three members most is the absence of sincerity in the way
the accounting books are kept. .. The Haitian members of the Board
submit these facts to your Excellency because they cannot be held
They esteem that if a change can not be had through the action of
the American government and the Export-Import Bank, Your Excel-
lency must authorize these members to resign as members of the Board
of SHADA so that the Haitian government will not have to continue
to guarantee the repayment of the $5,000,000 loaned by the Export-
Import Bank in case of the failure of SHADA.
This was very serious, but the members could not do less, since Fennell
refused to cooperate.
Then Mr. Hill, Fennell's assistant, put together a plan of redressment
permitting better functioning of SHADA. He had had several confrontations
with his boss. He told Fennell that the money was that of the Haitian
government and not enough attention was being taken to see that it was
spent properly, with economy. He added that Fennell was giving jobs to
nonqualified people, often his friends, whom he had fetched from the United
States at great expense when there were competent Haitian technicians right
there in Port-au-Prince. Moreover, these people were overpaid. Fennell also
ordered huge amounts of material without consulting anyone. In fact, he
was doing as he pleased. He listened to no one. This plan was submitted
December 24, 1943, to the Export-Import Bank, with a copy sent to
Maurice. It is wondered if the direction of the Export-Import Bank even
looked at it, for to the great surprise of all concerned, the American Rubber
Development Corporation on January 13, 1944, proposed that the crypto-
stegia program be interrupted! After having had hundreds of trees cut down,
plantations and homes destroyed to make way for the cryptostegia, the
project was being dropped without warning or preparation. Was it Knapp's
report that influenced the decision and the differences with Fennell just the
excuse awaited? (I do not know, as I have not had access to the inner
workings of the American Rubber Development Corporation.) The rural
economy was certainly upset. But the problem did not end there. The
Export-Import Bank wished to maintain Fennell and dismiss Hill. This act
was countered by the following response, dated January 13, 1944, written
by Maurice, Lacroix, and Chauvet to President Lescot.
In response to the report we had the honor to present to your
Excellence, the Export-Import Bank presented a memorandum in
which it expresses its will to maintain Fennell as president of the
Soci6t6 Haitiano-Americaine de Developpement Agricole, and de-
manded the resignation of Hill. This is another proof that the Export-
Import Bank exceeds its prerogatives. In the last analysis, whatever
the outcome of the activities of the president of SHADA, the bank has
nothing to lose, the Haitian government having guaranteed the loan of
$5,000,000 agreed upon for SHADA...
We want to repeat once more-either the Board functions and
acts like all Boards in all countries and in all companies or the Board
has no reason for existing and must retire to let the actual president
take entire responsibility for his acts.
When the president of SHADA creates new important functions
which were not foreseen in the organizational plan, not only without
having obtained the consent of the Board but without even informing
the Board after having taken the initiative of these measures; when
under the cover of a global budget he engages the services of new high
salaried people in the US, without afterwards making a report to the
Board of these appointments of which the Board learns at the same
time as the public through the company newspaper "A Propos de la
SHADA"; when the president makes changes in the budget approved
by the Board, again not informing it; when he makes agreements
introducing modalities of execution in certain contracts without in-
forming the Board ... We insist that by the nature of its functions the
Board has the right to know all about these transactions that have been
To prevent the return of such abuses of power ... we are of the
opinion that steps should be taken by the Haitian government.... It
is almost certain that the growing of cryptostegia will not continue
after the war. It is known that the projected 100,000 acres have been
reduced to 50,000 acres, and already in the region of the Artibonite
River, where properties were rented and permanent cultures de-
stroyed, both the cryptostegia nurseries and the plantations have been
abandoned without the president of SHADA judging it necessary to
officially let the Department of Agriculture know. It is to be noted that
Mr. Fennell, who had been a technical advisor to the Department, and
who after being appointed president of SHADA asked to keep this post
without remuneration, did not once give an opinion or a suggestion
concerning the situation or what to do in this instance. In no way did
he seek to have an interview with the Minister of Agriculture.
This precedent comes to confirm our apprehensions of the gravity
of the agricultural, social and political problems which the government
must face after the war, when the cultivation of cryptostegia will be
abandoned by the Rubber Development Corporation. The repre-
sentative of this corporation, D. Knapp, declared at a meeting held at
the National Palace last November that all that interested the Rubber
Development Corporation in Haiti was to grow rubber. It is true that
this corporation has no contractual responsibility concerning the prob-
lems created by the cessation of its activities outside its obligation to
root up the cryptostegia plants before giving back to the proprietors
the lands which it had leased from them. .. But it is also true that
both the American government and the Rubber Development Corpo-
ration, which is after all an American government organism, have a
responsibility toward the government and the Haitian people ... That
is the reason why we think that in view of the approaching end of the
war, it is indispensable that a commission of experts be sent without
delay to Haiti by the American government.
Maurice also wrote a memorandum of twenty-two pages to L. Duggan
of the State Department as a r6sum6 of SHADA since its beginning in 1941
and the evolution of the attitude of Mr. Fennell and the misunderstandings.
At the end he states: "SHADA is a company the shares of which belong to
the Haitian government. The loan of $5 million by the Export-Import Bank
is guaranteed by the Haitian State. In consequence, it is elementary that the
president general director of SHADA act in conformity with the Haitian
interests and in accord with the aspirations of the Government and the
Haitian People." This he sent in April 1944, when he went to Washington
for meetings concerning SHADA. He felt that Duggan, although a supporter
of Fennell, had more sensitivity as concerned the point of view of the Haitian
Andr6 Liautaud, the Haitian ambassador to the United States, also
contacted the Export-Import Bank. The two, Maurice and Andr6, tried to
see how their country could be extricated from such a critical situation. They
were able to make the American officials more aware of just what was really
going on in Haiti, as Maurice stated in a letter he wrote to Lacroix on April
27, 1944. "These gentlemen seem to finally understand the gravity of the
A few days later, on May 13, 1944, Maurice wrote to President Lescot
that the Americans offered grants for Haitian students as well as aid for
school construction, etc., but that the Americans could in no way consider
these offers as compensation for the enormous damage caused by SHADA.
Maurice was determined to multiply his efforts to have the peasants properly
Maurice also saw a representative of the U.S. Man Power Commission
for the possible recruitment of Haitian labor to cut trees in the forests of the
United States. He also went to New York to have an interview at the
International Education Institute, where he was asked if the big companies
in Haiti offered grants. He said that the president of the republic had sent a
circular to the different companies, but up to the time he had left Haiti there
had been no response except one favorable one from an English firm.
From Washington Maurice wrote to the president on May 14, 1944, of
the three meetings he and Liautaud had had, two with the State Department
and one with the Export-Import Bank. Concerning Fennell, Maurice wrote
that he explicitly told the Americans that the Haitian government had never
chosen Fennell, it had simply acquiesced to the choice, and that "the Haitian
government had confidence in him at the beginning but at this point it was
not a question of defending anybody but to present the point of view of the
Haitian government concerning a project carried out on its territory."
Maurice then described the attitude of Mr. Wright, the adviser of the State
Department, who stated, "It appears that the government had confidence in
Mr. Fennell and now has changed its opinion." A little later he remarked,
"It follows that Mr. Fennell ignored the Board." It seemed evident that
Fennell had to go. The newly appointed American ambassador of the United
States to Haiti, Orme Wilson, was present at all the Washington meetings.
Maurice gave his opinion from the few times he had met Wilson that he was
better than the former ambassador.
To confirm the conversations and the points of view of the Haitian
government, Andr6 Liautaud wrote to W. L. Pierson, president of the
Export-Import Bank, to suggest "a better organization of this company
[SHADA] which unfortunately has not given the results that we all had the
right to expect." He continued to say that there was no reason why after the
departure of its president it could not be reorganized with better controls,
such as a committee of three, with the minister of Agriculture taking on the
position of copresident with the future one, a better and firmer fiscal control,
the appointment of more Haitian technicians so as not to have foreigners at
far greater expense, giving up the unprofitable projects, and negotiating as
to the funds necessary to have the company to begin the activities again.
The American charge d'affaires in Haiti, Vinton Chapin, presented
President Lescot with the memorandum of the American Rubber Develop-
ment Corporation proposing the arrangements concerning the cyptostegia
While Maurice was in Washington, he and Andr6 were given the
proposals of the Rubber Development Corporation as to how it would
compensate the Haitian government in the name of the peasants and the
cessation of the cryptostegia project. At a meeting at the State Department
in Washington with the representative of that company, Mr. Allen, they
answered in the form of a memorandum that began in a conciliatory manner.
It referred to the friendship that united the two countries and would continue
to unite them in the spirit of collaboration and mutual aid with which they
regarded the problems facing them.
The memorandum continued: "The obligations stemming from the
contract; the Haitian government is aware that although no precise obliga-
tion was incurred by the Rubber Development Corporation in the contract
passed with SHADA as concerns indemnities or compensation to accord
the Haitian peasants in case of a brusque cancellation of the contract, the
Haitian government is asking for compensation for the following reasons."
The reasons were as follows:
(1) Real damage was caused or will be caused by the cancellation, as was
indicated in conversations and memoranda.
(2) The spirit of collaboration brought the Haitian government to come to
the aid of the United States, which had an urgent need for rubber. No
one can deny that to promote the realization of the program special
measures had to be taken, which often displeased public opinion, with
the only purpose of coming to the aid of the American government to
permit it to carry out satisfactorily its military operations. To tell the
Haitian government at this moment that there is nothing in the contract
to justify a demand for compensation would be equal to reproaching
it for having upheld the war effort of a friendly government without
hesitation and without having taken the ordinary and legal precautions,
which usually take time.
(3) It is necessary to come to an understanding because the peasants
depend on the rainy season for planting and in some areas the rains
have begun. The lands must be returned quickly; otherwise grave
economic and social injury can come about.
(4) The global sum demanded is $1 million. This results from the calcu-
lations as to how much it cost to uproot the trees and plantations to
prepare the lands for cryptostegia and how much compensation was
to be given for the harvests destroyed; the conclusion is that the one
dollar an acre offered by the Rubber Development Corporation is too
low. A dollar-fifty was estimated by Fennell as the minimum, and two
dollars is what the Haitian government feels is the necessary amount.
There would be administrative costs, and as of yet the picture is
confusing because of the way the lands were acquired, their location,
and condition, so that the one dollar offered by Mr. Allen can only be
accepted under reserve. The most important point was the adequate
compensation to put the lands back into production. Some plants take
from four months to four years to produce. Fruit trees take up to eight
years. The peasants have to wait for the results and to profit from their
work and investment, without taking into account illness, insects, etc.
Seedlings, nurseries, and protective trees also must be considered. The
cost per acre for a few plants follows: sugarcane, $13; manioc, $10;
rice, $10; cocoa, $26; bananas, $26; coffee, $40. Taking the mean
average, the amount comes to $1.5 million instead of the $75 thousand
offered by Mr. Allen on the basis of one dollar an acre. Therefore, the
$1 million demanded by the Haitian government is the strict minimum
that would force the government to aid the peasants from its own
budget. A better way to come to an understanding is for the American
government and the interested parties to send a mission to Haiti to
inform itself about the exactitude of the estimates and also the extent
of the damage caused to Haiti.
(5) The amount for the construction that the Rubber Development Cor-
poration is willing to give to SHADA is estimated at $483,000. As we
have said before, what interests the Haitian government is aiding the
Haitian peasants whose lands were rented or requisitioned for the
cryptostegia program by SHADA. The money is a fine gesture, but
the government will first have to sell the constructions to get ready
money for the peasants. As these buildings are far away from cities,
they cannot even be rented let alone sold.
(6) Given the difficulty due to the war in obtaining farm tools and
machines it would be highly recommended that in the arrangements
between the Rubber Development Corporation and the Haitian gov-
ernment, some of the machines and tools already on Haitian soil be
given to the Department of Agriculture to be used for the realization
of the program envisaged for the Haitian peasants.
To give more force to the government's demands, President Lescot
decided or was persuaded to use his influence to back up his minister of
agriculture and his ambassador in Washington by writing directly himself.
So still in May 1944, the president gave the American charge d'affaires in
Haiti the answer of the Haitian government. In it is stated:
... it has clearly been shown that the proposals made by the Rubber
Development Corporation, especially those which deal with the sums
proposed as financial aid for the reconstitution of the peasant planta-
tions which were destroyed to permit the culture of cryptostegia, are
absolutely inadequate and to begin with unacceptable to the Haitian
government... The immediate and unexpected cessation of the pro-
gram puts the government into a painful and delicate situation vis-a-vis
the peasants whose lands were rented or leased and whose plantations
were destroyed. This has created grave economic and political prob-
lems which can only bring the government to welcome all generous
and kind aid that the government of the United States can accord it,
so as to permit it to face the situation.
But the aid proposed in the memorandum delivered by the Ameri-
can embassy is so disproportionate to the necessary sum for a serious
job of rehabilitation that it appears to be purely symbolic ... In the
face of the situation that it confronts the Haitian government esteems
that the damages caused to the peasants' lands represent the sacrifices
consented to by the inhabitants of Haiti for the sacred cause of the
freedom of the world. They can be compared to ravages provoked by
enemy bombs falling on its territory .. and, as concerns the effective
return of the lands to the peasants and the rooting up of the cryptostegia
plants on these lands, the Rubber Development Corporation needs
only to scrupulously observe its contractual obligations. As concerns
all the other points which could be the object of an accord between
SHADA and the Rubber Development Corporation, an accord to
which the Haitian government can not be a part, as it belongs to the
Board of SHADA to talk with the Rubber Development Corporation.
At the end of May, Maurice prepared three memoranda that President
Lescot had delivered to the American charge d'affaires. Number 1 con-
cerned the eventual cessation of ciyptostegia production. The president
explained the exceptional measures taken to oblige the proprietors in the
zones declared strategic to rent or lease their properties to SHADA. The
president had to visit all the areas where the project was carried out to
explain in Creole the importance to the peasants and persuade them to work
for and assist SHADA.
He went on:
.. The giving up of their lands caused the peasants and certain
proprietors considerable injury. In certain regions such as in Grand
Anse, the felling of trees that serve in the construction of houses and
small boats (wood called tanis)... the economic repercussion pro-
voked by the destruction brought uneasiness in all the regions where
it was practised and affected the whole country. Because of the
destruction of food crops, prices have risen considerably. Higher
living costs were not compensated by salaries. .. From the point of
view of health there were notable perturbations, principally in Pilate
from where were recruited a large number of day workers to work in
a malaria infested area. This illness made many victims among those
returned to Pilate: ... it is true to say that not enough attention was
paid to the health of the laborers.
... it must also be said that in spite of the optimism of the
president of SHADA certain members of the government foresaw the
possibility of the failure of the cryptostegia program and advised the
president of SHADA to come to an understanding with the American
Rubber Development Corporation to consider certain measures in
view of being prepared for such an eventuality. These recommenda-
tions were confirmed in a letter addressed to the president of SHADA
dated April 21, 1943, by the Minister of Agriculture. It was not
In this memorandum is noted also plans for the peasants' welfare that
the directors of SHADA rejected from the point of view of the contract:
... it is none the less true that the Rubber Development Corporation
and the American government have a moral responsibility vis-a-vis
the government and the Haitian people which, by the way, are their
allies in the war.
The reparations incumbent on the Rubber Development Corpo-
ration must not just be based on the mathematical evaluation of the
material damages caused to the peasants and the permanent agricul-
tural program but it should also take into account the psychological
and political disturbances resulting from the cessation of the activities
of the Rubber Development Corporation and the partial paralysis from
which will suffer the affairs of the country. Therefore we think that at
least one million dollars in cash should be paid to the Haitian govern-
ment to undertake reparation and rehabilitation.
This memorandum then gave suggestions as to a plan of action
composed of two parts:
I. The First Part
(I) The setting up in the central bureau of SHADA a service to get
information from all the employees who were concerned with land
acquisition and the technicians who had to do with the land abstracts.
The work of this service will consist, first of all, in finishing the
payment of the rented properties not yet entirely paid for.
(2) The rapid return of the lands to their proprietors.
(3) The immediate payment by the Rubber Development Corporation to
the Haitian Department of Agriculture of part of the sum judged
necessary for the uprooting of the cryptostegia plants. This will permit
the immediate uprooting in certain regions to profit, if possible, from
the coming rains to plant fast-growing food crops. This work can begin
in the Artibonite valley to extend the culture of soja beans.