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by Becky Emrick
Staff Writer

Within the past week, France has seen some major proposed changes and reactions to Minister of Education, Higher Education, and Research, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem’s proposed education reforms in France. For example, “the [French] government wants to reduce teaching of Latin and ancient Greek, scrap an intensive language scheme and change the history curriculum [in middle schools]” in order to improve the quality of the French education system and try to create a more even level playing field for students (A). Instead, the intensive language program is going to be replaced by “a general class on classical culture” (C). France is willing to take extreme actions in order to try and reinvent their education system. This comes somewhat as a surprise because the French are extremely passionate about their education system since “two of the 10 biggest post-war strikes in the country have been over education, in 1984 and 1986” (C).

These changes come from the concerns that the “French education system has slipped down the rankings drawn up by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which says it is one of the least egalitarian in the world” (C). By scraping the old education system, Vallaud-Belkacem and President Hollande hope that the proposed education reforms will close the gap between students going to school “in poorer areas and those in more prosperous parts of the country” (C). Due to the direct correlations with the “pupils’ performance … [and] their parents’ socio-economic background and that children of immigrant parents are more likely to drop out of school” there is a need for France to create an educational system that serves students that come from a migrant background (E). This approach, although innovative, doesn’t speak to a majority of French citizens because teachers and citizens believe that the changes “will simply make things worse for pupils and worse for teachers” by scraping the traditional structure that France has used (J).

There are three main changes that are being proposed to change in the French education system. By imposing these changes France would have, “[phased] out Latin and Greek, to be replaced by an option in ‘languages and cultures of antiquity’, axing a reinforced modern-language programme for gifted 12-year-olds, to be replaced by a generalised second foreign language later on, [and for] 20% of the curriculum to be ‘cross-disciplinary’ modules organised by teachers of more than one subject” (A). Firstly, phasing out Latin and Greek languages completely from French Education could prove to be problematic because “[ancient languages are] threaded almost invisibly through contemporary culture, kept in shape by a combination of tradition and devotion, like good hand-stitching” and furthermore “there are practical reasons for learning an extinct language. It can make acquiring second, third, even fourth languages easier” (G). The second proposed change is meant to give students a more even level playing field by making the education less elitist and teaching students at all levels together. Finally, the last change wherein the curriculum will be organized by teachers of one or more subjects could potentially manifest itself in French teachers working longer hours, as well as the quality being degraded due to multiple subjects being morphed into one which leads many to believe that these proposed reforms will do “students more harm than good” (H).

Although this initiative is headed by the French Minister on Education, a majority of French citizens and teachers are unsupportive of the initiative. As a result “An Odoxa opinion poll last week showed that over 60 percent of French people oppose the reform (E). Because of their disagreements with Vallaud-Belkacem and Hollande over the proposed education reforms, citizens all over France went on strike May 19th to protest these changes. Teachers believe that “the reforms would only serve to increase inequalities and class separation” that France is currently challenged with overcoming (A). French teachers are also intimidated that these new reforms “will increase competition between schools and lead to inequalities” even though the aim of the reforms is to “give schools more choices over what they can teach, promote interdisciplinary learning and combat elitism” (D).

By bringing up this reform and bringing it to a vote, the Socialist Party is putting itself at odds ends by budding themselves against the Labor Unions so close to the 2017 Presidential Election. The Labor Unions, specifically teachers within these Labor Unions, are traditionally a large portion of the vote for the Socialist Party, however they “are largely opposed to the reform, their unions say. In a rare show of unity, seven unions, representing 80 percent of staff, are joining Tuesday’s strike” (E). This comes at a bad time for the Socialists to not have a strong backing so close before the Presidential election, especially since in opinion polls the Front National candidate Marine Le Pen has been coming up on top by about 30% in front of both Hollande and UMP candidate Sarkozy (F). This coupled with Hollande continuously degrading approval ratings, makes for a bad outcome for the Socialist Party in the 2017 Presidential Election.

Although the timing of these reforms aren’t ideal for the Socialist Party so close to the 2017 Presidential Election, making within the current Hollande administration including Hollande himself and Vallaud-Belkacem believe that “the reform is essential” because of the pressing need to “change an education system that reinforces inequalities. We want to improve everyone’s level across the board” (H). Despite many French citizens disbelief and discontent the reforms are pushed go to vote in September 2016 (I).












Photo By: Parti Socialiste


By Jasmine Minato
Staff Writer

2015 marks the 5th year anniversary of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which took over 250,000 lives, including over 18,000 highly skilled professionals and destroyed a majority of homes, schools, hospitals, and government buildings in Haiti’s capital of Port Au Prince (PAP). The monstrous natural disaster was ranked by the U.S. Geological Survey in the top 10 worst natural disturbances in all of human history. A self-proclaimed novice expert of Haitian history, yet confirmed avid researcher on the Caribbean island’s cultural developments and colonial periods, Ivan Evans (who is also the newly appointed Eleanor Roosevelt College provost), hosted a seminar called “Haiti After the Earthquake” on February 18 in the Cross Cultural Center’s Communidad Room at the University of California, San Diego. Guest speakers included Literature department Professor Sarah Johnson, UC Berkeley’s School of Environmental Engineering Professor Mary Cameiro, and Dickinson College American Studies Professor Jerry Philogene. Although Haiti has relatively avoided recent news headlines, commotion regarding international aid has not. The phenomenon of aid organizations flocking to regions struggling with rebuilding post-disaster continues to be a relevant headline. However, the role of international aid organizations in the reconstruction process deserves a second look. In particular, should organizations dictate whether a nation should enforce recovery or development policy post disaster reconstruction? In Haiti’s case, international aid organizations dictated the choice to fund long term public projects during an emergency disaster crippling the nation’s ability to re-build on it’s own. Pipeline projects were promoted as a recovery priority for aid cohorts. Is the fundamental intention of aid changing or was Haiti cheated out of relief aid?

How is Haiti remembered?
Haiti is well known as a poor nation with the “lowest per capita GDP in the Western Hemisphere,” according to Literature Professor Sarah Johnson. However, she continued, within “Haiti’s history contains the highs and lows of human emotion,” from which we can all remember Haiti by if we are willing to dig past a common single narrative strangling the nation’s true exceptional resiliency. Often overlooked is Haiti’s ability to overcome overwhelming circumstances. For example, in 1804 Toussaint L’Ouverture, a free slave and Haitian rebellion leader led a successful populist revolt against French colonial military forces leading to national independence. The logic of Haiti’s resilience lies in an ability of its people and it’s culture to adapt to renewal or as Johnson calls it “building from the ground up.” For most of the 17th century, Haiti was an empirical trade frontier where crops and eventually people were stolen by European colonizers. Haiti was forced to support foreign prosperity at the cost of domestic degradation. Post independence, social order was an anomaly where 60,000 Haitians lived as free people and half a million Haitians were still enslaved as laborers. Johnson asks “how could Haiti rule a society with slaves led by free people?” Her answer is years of extreme violence and bloody revolutions between different classes of people. Colonization caused unnatural violence and social disruption in Haiti. An intervention of foreign powers caused Haiti to become chaotic. Foreign intervention today no longer looks like colonization, but takes form in international aid. International aid organizations are pre-occupied with planning long-term business developments than providing emergency humanitarian relief. In 2010, disaster recovery became an investment opportunity for international aid organizations swarming PAP. Haiti has a spirit of resilience and a unique history of survival in the face of uncertain and tremulous conditions, but in the aftermath of an event of total geological destruction, was Haiti’s spirit of resilience enough to recover? Reliance on outside organizations caused Haiti to fall into an economic chokehold where recovery was possible, but with coercion. An immediate need in the aftermath of destruction would be water, shelter, and search crews, however, for Haiti commercial development as a recovery plan seemed to attract aid organizations.

How did Haiti fall victim of disaster capitalism?
To understand Haiti as a victim of deceitful aid, turn to theories of aid policy. Dr. Dambisa Moyo, who received a doctorate of Economics from Oxford and Master’s in government from Harvard’s Kennedy school, describes why foreign aid innately destroys the longevity of a nation in her 2010 published novel “Dead Aid.” Moyo’s novel can best explain how recovery policy and development policy are completely separate animals. Development policy is a geopolitical hold for advanced nations to dictate poor nations economically and divide physically. Thus, advanced nations embark on economic colonization by forcing business assets abroad. Recovery policy is either free or loaned immediate relief and often descends into a vicious cycle of aid, leaving a receiving nation addicted. Short phases of aid cause a culture of dependency, which ensures underdevelopment as well as economic failure even in the poorest of aid dependent nations. Recovery policy is a tool of international relief, yet used often without empathy for cultural survival. The very nature of aid is changing from fiscal loans between governments to NGOs sending humanitarian cohorts to supply emergency relief. However, considered an outlier is international aid organizations choosing to impose development policy in Haiti. Moyo formulates that development policy is strongest when a nation has equal economic and political leverage with foreign interventionists, but vindictive when a nation relying on aid is dependent on the hand which feeds it to ensure economic survival. Only nations with similar economic power should work multilaterally to mutually enforce development policy, but where a weaker state and powerful state work together, often the latter will be deceitful. The benefits will be asymmetrical and impose an agenda of development favoring the more advanced nation.

How did international aid organizations deceive Haiti?
Mary Cameiro, a world renowned expert on international post-disaster recovery, volunteered as an academic professional to join a recovery plan committee in Haiti in 2010. She says, “Being an academic in a room full of land developers, I felt as if I were in the twilight zone.” She was blindsided when she learned the true intentions of international aid organizations being more concerned with property licensing and land ownership rather than ensuring humanitarian aid to residents suffering from trauma. Camerio recalls that residents refused to remove rubble piles from the street, possibly knowing that land plot once belonged to them; a space where their business once stood. The beginning of territorial expansion processes began. Rubble piles were forcefully removed in order to build infrastructure in the city against the will of the Haiti residents. Camerio also noted that foreign aid development controlled by U.S. AID, IDB, the French Government, and the Clinton Foundation had no sort of common agenda and because of their disjointed goals to begin economic and social recovery. Chosen as one representative to oversee land-transferring committees, Camerio emphasized that fiscal investment in land property just was not normal for organizations that would support recovery in the face of disaster. In small meeting rooms, Camerio was an academic amongst “representatives” from aid organizations who claimed to be in Haiti to support recovery processes, but land developers were on the phone making business deals. She witnessed residents with honest intentions to protect their property, lose everything to a room of developers representing wealthy foreign organizations fighting for land. Who knows how many properties were stolen from residents because of the intervention in foreign aid. What is certain is PAP became a victim of disaster capitalism. Camerio recalls thousands of residents with missing family members and even more residents concerned about what to do next about their destroyed homes. It was perplexing that international aid organizations send land developers and business partners rather than emergency relief cohorts given a frantic outcry of the local residents. Without human security, disaster victims often resort to refugee seeking and migration. In Haiti’s case, many international aid organizations had no empathy of cultural survival, only a hunger to conquer and build.

Camerio says “one of the worst outcomes of the destruction was the loss of government records because land property licenses were completely unknown” and now, land was vulnerable for foreign developers. Haitian families who once owned stores in PAP had to give up that space for a school or new vocational resource center to be built. This type of development is infrastructure for future sustainability not emergency relief, or as Camiero says, “10 steps ahead of what really needed to be addressed as far a recovery policy was concerned. The immediate need was for survival and safety, not buildings and institutions.” While international organizations set up shop to build schools, life in the campsites for residents who had lost their homes was unsafe, unstable, and to the rest of the world, blue tent life looked like a dangerous war zone. Residents were put in danger due to enforced international aid. Crime was high as emergency relief supplies such as medical kits and blankets were stolen daily. “Children were abducted at night, in the middle of the day, and in the early morning in part because UN peacekeeping troops had militarized certain parts of PAP as regional zones and were too busy chasing organized crime” says Camerio. Mothers lost their children with no record of which part of the city their children might have been taken to or which blue tent their child may be in as tent rotation was a common trait of camp life. Even more bizarre, Cameiro explains that the U.S. military taking over Haiti’s national airport only because someone or something had to. “It was difficult to successfully do search and rescue because the streets were damaged and the land was destroyed. I witnessed residents collecting rainwater in puddles along the damaged streets for water. Between cracks there would be puddles for water to be collected in plastic bags and that was how you drank water, out of the spout of a plastic bag. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed. There were no classes for children and in an urban disaster, the effect was that school just ended” says Camerio. 80% of schools and ½ of the hospitals collapsed. Even UN offices were destroyed, killing over 300 employees. 1.3 million residents in Haiti lost their homes. Camerio sighs, “the entire nation was in shock.” Yet, Camerio like Johnson says Haiti’s tradition to rebuild in the aftermath of disaster gave her hope for strengthening the nation.

Where is the empathy for cultural resiliency and what is struggle of its survival?
Carrefour, pronounced “ka-fou” in Haitian Creole, is a large metropolitan, low-income neighborhood in Eastern PAP where disaster recovery has been relatively unsuccessful. Immediately after the quake, it was speculated Carrefour’s residents were suffering from waterborne diseases. Thankfully, staff from Doctors Without Borders identified a need to support Carrefour and within 24 hours upon arrival to Haiti they set up a pop-up hospital to treat over 500 local residents. However, as the only medical clinic available for miles, it was sacked by corrupt criminal activity; stolen medical devices such as thermometers were sold on the streets. There were no schools or resource centers. There was not enough law enforcement. Carrefour remained in need of relief groups, but only received minimal efforts to secure emergency relief. Instead, the focus was development. Regional planning for pipeline projects like recreation centers and transportation systems exist to sustain a strong city. Formally, infrastructure policy should embody these blueprints. For disaster recovery, basic necessities such as search and rescue should have been organized first. Every international organization representative was certainly made aware of the lack of public safety with unacceptable high crime rates and the difficulty of locating displaced people. A need for extensive search and rescue should justify a plan for an immediate relief project since Haiti was in a state of emergency. Developers did not care about who was going to enjoy these facilities. Lacking empathy for the cultural survival of Haiti, emergency relief turned into a business enterprise. From Camerio’s perspective, there was no investment in the primary relief of the Haitian community including the survival of residents. Today, the outcome of funding pipeline projects over encouraging emergency relief has deprived Haiti of a full national recovery.

Changing Aid To Recognize Empathy UCHI: What is the University of California’s connection to recovery in Haiti?
Today, Haiti is swarming with anti-establishment small university charted aid groups including the University of California’s own UC Haiti initiative group. Partnered with the L’Universite d’Etat d’Haïti (UEH), Haiti’s largest public institution for higher education, each of the ten UC campuses has dedicated students to support “Haitian brothers and sisters.” The initiative, which began in 2010 as a response to the earthquake, emphasized the necessity for global collaboration in all sectors to support self-sufficient recovery for residents in Haiti. “International governments often do not prioritize higher education in their plans for reconstruction” says UCHI. However, now cross-cultural alliances between universities can ensure long-term stability. It is possible that UCHI may be the prospect to reversing the voice of aid back to support emergency relief. If smaller groups can increase international education infrastructure, then international organizations would have to respond to emergency relief. Facilitating self-sustainability for the Haitian people is a positive first step towards development rooted in empathy.

Image by United Nations Development Programme


By Andrew Muse-Fisher
Staff Writer

When Shinzo Abe became Japan’s Prime Minister in 2012 he initiated his plan to reinvigorate an aged and ailing economy. While this plan, widely referred to as Abenomics, focuses on monetary, fiscal, and growth policies to end deflation, Abe has included a call to encourage Japanese women to enter the work force to increase productivity. [1] One of his goals is to increase female employment in leadership positions to 30 percent in six years. To begin working toward this goal, he appointed five female ministers to his cabinet. [2]

Though he is setting a strong example, he is ignoring certain social and cultural issues that prevent women from entering or excelling in the work place. To make up for her husband’s shortcomings, first lady Akie Abe expressed the necessity to change social attitudes so that “women can shine” in the careers they choose. [3] Mrs. Abe, an accomplished businesswoman, serves as an example of the success women can achieve. In addressing the World Assembly for Women hosted in Tokyo this September, Abe stated how achieving similar success in a career for women is impeded by a “male dominated business culture” that fails to accommodate the needs of working women. [4] Specifically, she scorned the ways in which Japanese culture limits women’s opportunities to excel in the work place as well as the lack of flexibility offered by high-level career paths when it comes to raising a family.

Because Japanese women face unequal opportunities when compared to men, they are widely discouraged from entering the job market. Women are often paid much less than their male counterparts: one estimate suggests 27 percent less. [5] Though this is an economic issue, it has social implications. If a job is not as lucrative when compared with the same job done by a man, women are more likely to deem their time working as less worthwhile. If this is the case, they might attempt to find a job where their time is valued to a greater extent, or they may drop out of the job search completely. Such wage discrimination is also indirectly discouraging for women in that men are in greater demand, increasing the competition in an already sparse job market.

A significant barrier to women gaining access to positions that utilize more technology lies in their relative level of education. Women are more likely to receive a university education than men, but they are severely underrepresented in fields involving mathematics and sciences. [6] If Japan is to successfully diversify its workforce, it cannot only focus on job fields in which women are already competitive. Although it is largely beyond the priorities of individual businesses to influence personal education choices, it could prove fruitful to increase recruiting efforts geared towards immersing female students in these fields.

Japan’s gender gap is clearly visible when examining women in upper management positions. In 2011, Japanese companies with over 5,000 employees had fewer than three percent of their management positions filled by women. [7] Abe has made women in leadership positions a priority, but he has done so largely through the aforementioned goal. But rhetoric is not likely to be effective unless Abe or others address the social and economic issues that discourage female participation, while guiding women to these positions. For example, Nissan has struggled to maintain a gender-diverse management staff, but has recently established policies to change this deficit. The company uses career fairs and advisers, as well as women speakers to demonstrate the feasibility of a career in management positions. [8] Though this is one company’s efforts toward diversification, it acts as a model that could be emulated across other Japanese businesses in order emphasize the necessity of diversity while increasing the motivational efforts that enable women to access higher management positions in the Japanese business world.

As women struggle to obtain managerial positions, they are statistically less likely to hold a job for a long period of time. A report from the office of the prime minister showed that employment of mothers was failing to grow in 2004. [9] In 2008, women desired to work less time in order to spend more time with their children. [10] This highlights the plausibility that mothers are trying to find a balance between time at home and time at work. Their efforts are hindered by the tradeoff that arises from compensation. Because women generally receive lower wages, they have to work longer days for their commitment at work to be worthwhile. This creates two extremes that they then have to choose from: they can work longer hours than they prefer or, if they can rely on their partner’s income, they can decide to not return to work at all.

Traditionally, Japanese women are more successful as homemakers that rely on financial support from their husbands when compared to other nations such as the United States. [11] Though women are progressively breaking this trend, the option is still open to them. Because of this, they can stay at home and out of work for long periods of time instead of making the decision between their children and their income. An alternative is for women to remain single and childless so that family does not interfere with their careers. These women work long hours to maintain an income and job security. In between, they do not have time to meet or date men. [12] While this has its positive implications—women are increasing their competitive edge in the workplace—it is also unfair that they have to forego having a family just so they can work. These two extremes demonstrate how Japanese women are placed in an awkward situation stemming from a lack of businesses practices that encourage diversity and that take into account a woman’s desired length of leave for child care.

Despite a growing female participation rate in its overall labor market, Japan is facing social problems that do not represent an isolated phenomenon. During World War II, the United States experienced an influx of women leaving the home and working jobs previously filled by men. It is remarkable how quickly they left their traditional roles in the home, but it is important to note that they remained in lower level positions. Currently, women in the United States represent around only a third of managers, even after decades of women’s rights movements. [13] This indicates that there is a long fight for Japanese women to gain total or near total equality in the work force, but this comparison also suggests Japan can use the example set by the United States. A further comparison done in 2009 offers three crucial steps to increasing female employment. Having higher education, more social support from a husband, and a smaller gap in wages between husband and wife all increase the likelihood of a woman’s employment. Education overall is no longer an issue for women getting a job, but they still lack social support and similar wages. Promoting equal or similar wages based on experience rather than gender can guarantee partial mitigation of these issues, but as long as Japan’s dominant culture remains the same, gender inequality will persist.

Japan’s history is filled with continuity of male dominance with few exceptions, and only in recent decades has the nation begun to work against this entrenched trend. Japan is moving in the right direction towards this goal, but not without the occasional setback. In June of this year, an assemblywoman was heckled while speaking on the necessity for more women’s services. The hecklers, also members of the assembly, suggested that she get married and questioned her ability to bear children. [14] Such abhorrent actions at the center of government do not bode well for the current state of women’s rights in Japan in general. Indeed, in working towards workplace equality, the women of Japan will have to endure insults and setbacks until the very foundations of Japanese culture embrace equality of opportunity for both genders.



[1] Koo, Bon-Kwan. “Abenomics, Finally a Solution to Revive Japan?” SERI Quarterly 6.3 (2013): 29-37.


[3] Mari, Yamaguchi. “AP Interview: Japan’s First Lady Says Key to “Womenomics” is More Flexibility for Women.” Canadian Press.

[4] Matsutani, Minoru. “Japanese Women Still at a Disadvantage, First Lady Says.” Japan Times 19 Nov. 2014.

[5] Adema, Willem. “Closing the gender Gap Can Boost the Economy.” OECD Observer 298 (2014): 15-16.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Jie, Ma, and Yuki Hagiwara. “At Japan’s Carmakers, Women Managers are Rare.” (2013): 9.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Boyles, Corinne, and Aiko Shibata. “Job Satisfaction, Work time, and Well-Being Among Married Women in Japan.” Feminist Economics. 15.1 (2009): 57-84.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Nishimura, Junko. “Human Resources, Household Economy, Social Support, and Women’s Employment in the U.S. and Japan.” Conference Papers – American Sociological Association (2009): 1.

[12] Yoshida, Akiko. “No Chance for Romance: Corporate Culture, Gendered Work, and Increased Singlehood in Japan.” Contemporary Japan – Journal of the German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo 23.2 (2011): 213-234.

[13] Jie, Ma, and Yuki Hagiwara. “At Japan’s Carmakers, Women Managers are Rare.” (2013): 9.

[14] Finley, JC. “Tokyo Assemblywoman Heckled by Male Colleagues While Speaking on Women’s Rights.” UPI Top News (2014).