BOSTON - The University of Massachusetts Boston and the
University of Massachusetts President¹s Office are bringing together a
consortium of colleges and universities next week to support rebuilding and
improving higher education in Haiti. The consortium will be launched at a
meeting in Haiti on October 26-27, 2010 that will bring together more than
40 representatives from higher education institutions in Haiti, the United
States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Even before the January earthquake, Haiti¹s higher education system faced
inadequate and often outdated facilities, as well as difficulties in
academics and administration. After the earthquake, which destroyed the
majority of the system¹s buildings, higher education in Haiti essentially
shut down. The objective of the consortium is to both help rebuild the
physical structures of the system and also restructure the way the system
works so that it can better drive the economic, political, and social
development of the country.
³Improving and rebuilding Haiti¹s education system, particularly higher
education, is at the core of helping the country to realize progress and
strengthen its evolving democracy,² says Alix Cantave, associate director of
UMass Boston¹s William Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture,
which is leading the effort. ³A total of 87 percent of the public and
private universities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area are destroyed.
We need to begin developing guiding principles for rebuilding higher
education in Haiti.²
Among the participating local institutions, in addition to UMass Boston and
the UMass President¹s Office, are Boston College, Boston University, Harvard
University, MassBay Community College, MIT, and Wheelock College.
In addition to developing guiding principles, the consortium will identify
crucial short-term higher education problems in Haiti that members of the
consortium can help solve within the next 6 18 months; longer-term problems
that the consortium can address in the next 2 5 years; and explore ways that
the consortium can work together to address other higher education
The higher education system in Haiti consists of a public and a private
sector. The public sector includes the State University of Haiti (UEH), the
major higher education institution in the country, which comprises 11
faculties or schools with about 55 percent of its student population in
Port-au-Prince. Based on data from the Ministry of Education, the
Presidential Working Group on Education, and the Interuniversity Institute
for Research and Development, prior to the earthquake Haiti had 159 higher
education institutions serving about 40,000 students, half of whom were
students at the State University of Haiti.
Higher education institutions in Haiti will work with members of the
consortium to identify problems that include provision of safe and adequate
transitory space, laboratories, and academic support programs to allow
students to return to the classroom and longer-term challenges that include
physical, structural, organizational, curricular, and institutional issues.
About the University of Massachusetts Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues,
the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston¹s only public
university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning
environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston¹s
eight colleges and graduate schools serve more than 15,000 students while
engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic
programs, research centers, and public service activities.