Boston-led Consortium to Meet in Haiti to Plan Rebuild of Higher Education System
October 22, 2010
Office of Communications
UMass Boston Convenes International Group to Restart Public and Private Institutions
The University of Massachusetts Boston and the University of Massachusetts President’s 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Even before the January earthquake, Haiti’s higher education system faced inadequate and often outdated facilities, as well as difficulties in academics and administration.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 system’s 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.
“Improving and rebuilding Haiti’s education system, particularly higher education, is at the core of helping the country to realize progress and strengthen its evolving democracy,” says Alix Cantave, associate director of UMass Boston’s William Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture, which is leading the effort. “A 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.”
Among the participating local institutions, in addition to UMass Boston and the UMass President’s 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 challenges.
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 Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 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. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.