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ERIC Number: EJ972724
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan-1
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1931-1362
Haitian Universities Struggle to Rebound
Downie, Andrew
Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan 2012
The Faculty of Applied Linguistics at the State University of Haiti hardly looks like an institute of higher learning. Hidden away on a quiet downtown cross street, the grimy one-story building contains just three classrooms, along with a library, the dean's office, and a teachers' lounge, each no larger than a bedroom. Two years ago, the accommodations were slightly better, in a larger building with a language lab. Then, at 4:53 p.m. on January 12, 2010, an earthquake rocked Haiti, taking hundreds of thousands of lives and destroying thousands of buildings, including many schools and universities. The linguistics building was among the hardest hit. Two years after the quake struck, higher education in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation is struggling to rebound. The always fragile sector has made only marginal improvements, hamstrung by a lack of equipment, qualified people, and space. What universities want most is money, but most international donors either have focused their efforts on elementary and secondary education or have been hesitant to hand over cash in a country riddled with corruption and mismanagement. Professors' salaries are low and often go unpaid. Only a small percentage work full time. And university leaders are struggling not just to find the means to reconstruct buildings but also to reconceive the role of the university in a nation with so few resources. The reconstruction process has been especially difficult because successive Haitian governments never paid much attention to higher education in this nation of 10 million people. Some 39 percent of the population is illiterate, so the top priority, however badly executed, has always been elementary education. Soon after the quake, the country's president at the time, Rene Preval, created a presidential task force on education, which was charged with drafting a five-year "Operation Plan" for reforming Haiti's education system. It proposed expanding higher-education enrollments and raising more than a half-billion dollars to rebuild and revamp the system. Haiti's current president, Michel Martelly, who took power in May, named the country's first-ever under secretary for higher education, although he also emphasized that his focus is on bolstering elementary education. So far though, grand plans have seen little follow-through. Those in charge of higher education at the education ministry say they have had to beg for money, often in vain. They doubt that the appointment of Jean Claude Francois to the higher-education post will make much difference.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Haiti