The six-year compulsory school is compulsory and free of charge, but due to lack of teachers and schools, only 60% (1990) start school, and most of them do not complete their schooling. Thanks to the investment in educational programs for adults, illiteracy has decreased somewhat during the 1990s. However, illiteracy, which was estimated at 55% in 1995, is still high. There are six teacher colleges, but the number of newly graduated teachers (200–400 annually) is not enough to reduce teacher shortages. Around 1990, 80% of rural teachers and a third of urban teachers lacked formal qualifications. About one-sixth of the children who complete compulsory school continue in the six-year high school. Half of schoolchildren attend private-run schools, primarily by the Catholic Church.
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In Port-au-Prince there is a university with about 5,000 students. Only 0.7% of the residents have college education.
In March 1990, General Avril was overthrown by General Gérard Abraham, who shortly afterwards transferred power to a provisional transitional government led by Judge Ertha Pascal-Trouillot. It was the first time a woman was head of government in Haiti. The Provisional Government worked to fulfill the conditions of the Constitution, and printed the December 1990 presidential election.
With 67% of the votes cast and widespread support for the poor urban population, Pastor Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected President as candidate for the National Front for Democracy and Change – better known by his Haitian designation, “Lavalas”, the waterfall (there should flush the old regime away). Aristide was inducted into the presidential post on February 7, 1991. He was a supporter of liberation theology, and for the same reason in 1988 had been excluded by the Salecian order. His government program was partly oriented towards combating corruption and drug trafficking, and partly aimed at alphabetizing the population and ensuring social and economic progress so that the large population could move from “extreme poverty to poverty with dignity”.
But the government did not have many months to implement its program. On September 30, a bloody military coup was led by General Raoul Cedras. In the months following the coup, it emerged that Haiti’s citizenship had ordered the coup. It feared Aristide’s social reforms. At that time, it was not possible to confirm or deny whether Denmark’s consul in the country, Ronald C. Madsen, had participated in the financing of the coup.
The Organization of American States (OAS) immediately initiated a trade embargo and initiated diplomatic initiatives in the region and according to the United States. In an attempt to avoid international isolation, the coup makers declared that they would recognize the functioning and supremacy of Parliament.
In February 1992, representatives of the OAS, Haitian parliamentarians and the overthrown Aristide in Washington signed an agreement on the reinstatement of democracy and the president’s return to power.
In April, 4,000 political murders were reported, while thousands of Haitians fled in fragile vessels for fear of repression. After Aristide’s fall, 40,000 Haitian refugees had been picked up on the sea by the North American Coast Guard. Most of them were sent back to Haiti by the United States.
In May, the United States government issued a decree ordering the Coast Guard to intercept all vessels from Haiti and return them. Two months later, an appeals court in the United States issued a ruling that knew the decree in violation of 1980 refugee law.
In June, Haitian military dictatorship appointed Marc Bazin as prime minister. He was the founder of the Liberal Movement for the Restoration of Democracy.
In January 1993, US President Clinton declared that his government still intended to bring in Haitian refugee ships. At the same time, a federal court ordered 158 Haitian refugees released from the US collection base in Guantánamo so that they could be treated for AIDS. The court characterized the camp as a “prison for HIV”, with conditions similar to those in camps for “spies and murderers”.
United Nations and OAS envoy Dante Caputo now launched a diplomatic offensive to secure Aristide’s return to government. As part of the proposal, the military people who had participated in the coup in September 1991 were to be granted amnesty, and at the same time a “development plan” drawn up by the World Bank should be implemented.
In January, the dictatorship voted to replace part of parliament, but the voting share was below 3% and a few months later Marc Bazin resigned from the prime minister’s post.