Education in Haiti has a long history. The constitution of 1805 called for free primary education. By 1820 there were a number of primary and secondary schools in Haiti. The Educational Act of 1848 was responsible for the development of additional rural primary schools and for setting up colleges of law and medicine.
Unfortunately, a well-established educational system never developed. The wealthy in Haiti preferred to send their children to school in France. In 1860, the Catholic Church sent clergy to teach in Haiti. They used traditional French educational methods, which emphasized memorization and reading the classics of French literature. These methods of teaching stayed in place until fairly recently.
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For many years, education in Haiti was delivered in French, even though only 10% of the population spoke the language. Today, education is delivered in both Creole and French.

Major educational reforms took place in the 1970s and 1980s. These included approval for the use of Creole in Haiti's schools. Although by law primary education is free and mandatory for children between the ages of six and twelve, there is a lack of proper teaching facilities because of limited government funding. For every teacher in the countryside there are 550 school-aged children. Moreover, dropout rates for primary students are high. Only about 63% of those enrolled in primary schools will graduate. About 50% of the adult population cannot read or write.
Most formal schooling is provided by private and religious-based schools. These schools are not regulated and are too expensive for most people to afford.

Despite these problems, many citizens have made significant contributions in the arts, science, medicine and business. There is a small, publicly funded university in Port-au-Prince named the State University of Haiti. There are also a number of private schools of higher learning. They include schools of business, engineering and theology. Some students go on to attend universities and colleges in Europe and North America.