Bringing higher education to Haiti
The 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti's higher education sector, a crucial factor in rebuilding efforts and sustainable development. Twenty-eight of Haiti's 32 major universities were completely destroyed and the four remaining universities were severely damaged. A majority of the professors and students who survived fled the country.
In November 2010, at the Clinton Global Initiative, UoPeople committed to accepting 250 qualified Haitian youth to study free online, helping them access education and develop the skills needed to rebuild their country.
UoPeople believes that education can provide a longer term solution for Haiti. Helping Haiti is not only unique in regards to individuals’ economic and living conditions after the earthquakes’ devastation, but also because of the country’s “brain drain.” Many of Haiti’s most educated and skilled survivors left the country in search of better opportunities abroad after the earthquake, and a significant number of other talented youth, who are accepted to foreign Universities, stay abroad and never returned to Haiti. In order to fight this "brain drain" effect on the country's ability to rebuild itself, University of the People provides higher education to Haiti’s youth in Haiti – where they can be educated as well as then remain in Haiti - and by staying, become future leaders critical in assisting with rebuilding the country.
The practicalities of succeeding with educational efforts in Haiti are distinctive in that serving Haitian’s youth demands the creation of local alliances. Unlike in some other countries, where many students have access to computers and steady internet connection; in Haiti, many potential students lost everything in the earthquake and consequently, live in tents. Moreover, refugees living in such conditions are unlikely to read international press publications where UoPeople is largely covered, and to hear about their ability to study tuition-free. In order to overcome these issues, UoPeople teamed up with local allies to spread the word about the University, screen and recruit potential candidates, locate places for students to go to study, furnish these places with computers, ensure electricity and back-up generators and provide satellite internet. The establishment of all Student Computer Centers is done through alliance with local NGO’s: Haitian Connection Network, the Foundation for the Technological and Economic Advancement of Mirebalais (FATEM), and the ETRE Ayisyen Foundation. The growing success in Haiti of the model of student centers created with local allies is one which UoPeople can utilize further to reach students - worldwide - who are qualified to study but do not have computers or internet connection.
The first Student Computer Center in Haiti opened in Thomassin, Port-au-Prince, where the inaugural class consisted of 16 students. In February 2011, two new centers in Port-au-Prince and in Mirebalais, respectively, opened their doors to a further 17 students who commenced their studies at UoPeople. Seventeen new students commenced their studies in mid-April 2011. Due to the economic situation of students at one of the centers, UoPeople instituted a feeding program to provide 20 students a free meal each day in order that students may have the nourishment needed to continue with studies.
In relation to media, the UoPeople Haiti Project has continuously received positive media coverage including in CNN and USA Today. Additionally, The Huffington Post nominated Founder & President Shai Reshef as the Ultimate Game Changer in Education, largely because of the work being done by UoPeople in Haiti.
To date, UoPeople has accepted almost 100 Haitian students to study at the University.
To make this commitment a reality for 150 other students—and beyond—we need your help!
Please donate today!