The Secretary of State to the Minister in Haiti (Bailly-Blanchard)

No. 350

Sir: The Department has been much concerned by the failure of the system of public instruction in Haiti to show any tangible improvement during the period of occupation. While the Treaty of September 16, 1915, does not specifically provide for the cooperation of this Government with that of Haiti in promoting education, it is evident that the obligation of the United States under the Treaty to assist in the carrying out of plans for the prosperity of the Haitian Republic comprises the duty of aiding the Haitian Government in every proper way to establish the system of public instruction on a sound foundation and to make reforms and improvements in the present method of education. One of the most creditable achievements of the American occupation of Santo Domingo has unquestionably been the reform of public instruction, and it is not thought that this Government will have fulfilled its obligations to Haiti if, as a result of the American intervention, far reaching reforms in education are not carried out.

It appears, therefore, to be highly desirable that the Haitian Government be acquainted with the earnest desire of this Government that reforms be undertaken at an early date in the existing system of public education and that provision be made in the yearly appropriations for this branch of the Government which will provide, if possible, an increase in the salaries of the teachers and the necessary equipment for the schools. It is believed that the lack of progress in education is due as largely to the lack of funds as to the absence of the necessary laws or to an inadequate system.

The Department believes that provision should at once be made for the establishment of adequate normal schools for the training of teachers; for the employment of competent inspectors; and likewise for the employment of a Technical Adviser on educational [Page 189] matters. The Department has given careful consideration to this question and has reached the conclusion that a detailed and careful study of the situation, by a commission established at Port-au-Prince, is required. It is deemed advisable that this commission should be composed of an equal number of Haitians and Americans and should have as one of its members a Technical Adviser to be nominated at the request of the Haitian Government by the Department of State. The Department believes that the mixed commission might well be composed of three Haitian members as follows: the Minister of Public Instruction, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, and a member to be nominated directly by the President, preferably a Haitian not directly connected with the Ministry of Public Instruction, but holding some official position in Haiti such as that of justice of the Court of Causation [Cassation?]; three American members: the American Minister, the Technical Adviser, and one of the Treaty officials to be nominated by the American Minister.

It is the opinion of the Department that this mixed commission should study the system of education now existing in Haiti in the most thorough manner, in particular along such lines as the Technical Adviser may suggest, in order that a full report with recommendations for improvements may be prepared as the result of its investigation. The commission, and in particular the Technical Adviser, should be granted special powers by the President in order that all necessary information may be obtained without difficulty from the public Departments of the Haitian Government. The commission should also be empowered to send specially appointed delegates throughout the country in order to obtain advice as to conditions in the outlying districts. The commission might well devote its attention also to the most favorable method of obtaining additional sources of revenue to be devoted exclusively to the yearly appropriations for public instruction. Upon the conclusion of these investigations the report and recommendations prepared as a result of the deliberations of the commission should be submitted to the President in order that they may receive his approval, and the report might well be referred by him upon approval to the Ministry for Public Instruction in order that so many of the recommendations contained in the report as possible may be included in the budget for Public Instruction for the fiscal year following completion of the report.

The Department desires that you bring this matter to the immediate attention of the President. It is hoped that the appointment of this commission will be favorably considered by the President and [Page 190] that he will request this Government to nominate for appointment by him the Technical Adviser in educational matters. You may further express to the President this Government’s sincere conviction that the investigations and report of the commission suggested would be of the greatest value to the Government of Haiti, and state to him that he may be assured of the earnest desire of the Department of State to afford him all possible assistance in connection with the progress of education in Haiti.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Norman H. Davis