In the mainstream media, the narrative about Haiti often portrayed a place, where corruption, poverty and total failure rule. Many Haitians, myself including, are usually not happy reading these words about our beloved country.
Our Haiti, despite all of its trouble, is a beautiful place, where most people try to do what’s right whether it be finding ways to send their kids to school or share a hot meal with a neighbor in need. The potential for this place to be great for all of its people has far surpassed its lacking, and yet we are entangled in a web of mediocrity at the core of society.
For the most part, the people are peaceful, and don’t ask for much to be satisfied. This last part could be a key factor as to why mediocrity has been widely accepted as normal everywhere in the country.
How do we get to be so mediocre and what can be done to reverse this phenomenon?
It is easy to say, we must fight corruption, improve our schools, render government more efficient and so on, but the hard truth is that collectively, we must put our intellect together to fight mediocrity.
The simple definition of mediocre is the characteristic of something that is not very good, and this can be observed or assessed at every level in Haiti.
Here’s a perfect example of mediocrity: The current Haitian government proposes an electrifying project, where at the end, most of the country should have 24 hours electricity daily. What sounds like a very good idea, albeit far-fetched, given that at present most of the country is constantly in the dark; but in reality and in the execution, mediocrity prevails.
The Haitian president, Jovenel Moise, in a recent visit to Tiburon, a small town in the south of the country wanted to showcase its electrification project, and here’s what parts of it looks like:
Above, you can see a set of cheaply imported solar kit, purchased from a local company, then distributed to a few residents in the countryside. What we would expect from a small non-governmental organization is proudly promoted as part of a national energy project by the country’s president. This is the epitome of mediocrity at its best.
Mediocrity has a price, and often it’s more expensive to be mediocre than to be good. Haiti is impoverished because those in charge are mediocre in their application and execution of developmental policies. If those on top put very little value on competence and those with the know-how skills, it’s only fitting that the rest of society accepts things as they are, for they do not know any better.
To move from a mediocre society to one that is exceptional, the Haitian intelligentsia needs to be more active, and initiate a sort of societal renaissance to raise the people’s expectation of what a thriving society should resemble.
University leaders must demand a seat at the national table, where matters of importance are being decided. How can we develop an energy plan for the nation without any consultation with the leaders or experts within our school of science, engineering and technology, better known as the faculte des sciences.
The same can be said, if we are to develop a plan for healthcare and sanitation, curriculum reform, financial reform and other pressing matters that can lead to a prosperous nation, these decisions can not be made without the local experts being involved.
It’s true that the universities in Haiti are not model of excellence, but it is not because the know-how is not there, but it has more to do with a lack of organization and financing for these institutions, which brings me to my final point.
The only way to successfully combat mediocrity is by investing soundly in our educational system. The universities can no longer be neglected in the national budget. We must do more to get them involved in research and development, and to not be afraid to allow innovation to be part of our national discourse.
Mediocrity can only continue to flourish as long as the academic institutions are mediocre and the graduates they put out are only theoreticians rather than true practitioners.
Once we admit that mediocrity should no longer be tolerated, it will be much easier to reduce corruption, enact sound educational policy, and above all find the tangibles for wealth creation to take place. Mediocrity is the true barrier of Haitian progress and development.