Special Report on Education in Haiti by United States Institute of Peace
Article on existing ed tech projects in haiti
MIT linguists and techies have teamed up with Haitian Dept of Education to build Creole component of French curriculum in the STEMs.
MIT Haiti Initiatives for technology-based learning in college
IDB report on ICT in Haiti

A. Background
The education system in Haiti is failing. Over 90% of schools in Haiti are privately owned and financed. To attend requires paying tuition per child that is out of reach for most Haitian families, even at the primary school level. In addition, the dominant language of instruction at all schools is French, which is spoken only by affluent families. The majority of Haitian children speak only Creole, and are thus discriminated against in the classroom. Students who are able to overcome these financial and linguistic barriers are then faced with the reality that the schools they enroll in are sorely under-equipped in not only specialized materials like science lab equipment and technology, but even the very basics in terms of desks, chairs, and books. The schools teachers are largely untrained (only 60% are recognized as “appropriately trained” according to the World Bank) and they are typically not being paid at their promised salaries, if at all.

B. Project Objective(s)/Statement of Need
Only about half of Haitian children aged six-twelve are able to attend school regularly. Rural communities such as Cyvadier are particularly underserved, leaving the community’s children at a distinct disadvantage.

To combat this gap in their education, we propose to build a community-level initiative that gives students access to quality educational materials in the language they speak at home.

A simple internet connected multimedia center will leverage the computer technology that has already been donated to Social Tap to design after school programs where students can seek support with their school work, along with the opportunity to learn computer literacy and, for those who show promise, advanced skills that will open a unique window of opportunity too often denied to students in their community.

C. Project Activities
  1. After-school Computer Literacy Classes
    1. Basic Computer Skills
      1. How to use input devices like mice, keyboards, and touchpads
      2. Basic computer vocabulary and file structure
        1. Files/Folders
        2. Saving work
      3. Basic Computer Applications
        1. Creating documents (in Microsoft word or similar)
        2. Email
        3. Internet browsing
      4. Computer “street smarts”
        1. How to avoid scams
        2. Nature of malware and how to avoid it
    2. Intermediate Skills
      1. The logic and most efficient use of search engines
        1. How to find answers to computer use issues
      2. Basic online content creation using WYSIWYG applications (blogs, web pages, wikis, github)
    3. Advanced Skills (for those who show the most promise in basic courses)
      1. Hardware maintenance
      2. Software troubleshooting (including how to find answers online to problems you’ve never seen before)
        1. Basic programming and software architecture

  1. Support for Schoolwork
    1. Online tutoring project
      1. Online space to collaborate with teachers and top students from across Haiti who have volunteered or been hired to help students struggling with schoolwork
        1. Use Google Docs and online whiteboard tools to collaborate online without the need of bandwidth-heavy video chat or VOIP applications
    2. MIT STEM Program
      1. Access to existing online MIT and Haiti joint project to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in Haitian Creole
    3. French and English language software
      1. Offline software apps designed to use audio and video to teach students French, the dominant language of Haitian government and higher-level private sector work.
      2. Comparable apps designed to teach English, dominant language of most tech resources on the internet today.
    4. Offline French and Creole textbooks
      1. Study aids that require no internet connection.

D. Implementation Plan/Timeline

  1. Fit existing room with extra power outlets and voltage stabilizers
  2. Reseal windows and doors for weatherproofing
  3. Install dehumidifier
  4. Set up 10 of twenty donated laptops with wireless internet, power strips, and headphone/microphone headsets
  5. Bring in local IT professional to update and localize operating systems to Haitian Creole, install basic antimalware measures
  • Use their services to localize and refine computer literacy curriculum
  1. Bring in local teachers to inspect educational materials
  • Use their services to localize and refine support for schoolwork resources and tools
  1. Begin first round of classes twice per week in computer literacy courses
  2. Open up the lab for open use time for all students who have completed the “street smarts” portion of the curriculum
  3. Begin classes and tutoring (support for schoolwork)
  4. Identify strongest students for additional advanced training and possible hires for maintaining and expanding the system to meet community needs.
  • Eventual goal of identifying locals capable to taking over the media lab and all of its curricula after basic establishment.
  1. IT tech brought in to conduct maintenance every three months, replace computers that aren’t working from the pool of the remaining ten laptops while the broken systems can be brought to Jacmel for repair.

E. Staffing and Material Needs
  • Construction materials needed to properly seal lab room from humidity and sea salt
  • Dehumidifier appropriate for room size
  • 5-10 Power strips and 1-2 voltage stabilizers
  • 10 headsets with microphones
  • Backup wireless router
  • 10 Kensington (or comparable) laptop locks
  • Sealed secure cabinet or similar solution for storage of unused laptops.
  • Maintenance “insurance” fund for replacing parts or hiring repair services for both the computer hardware itself and also the facilities containing them.

  • IT professional for immediate setup and computer tuneups (four times per year)
  • Teacher for school related curriculum assistance (two times per week during school year)
  • Computer literate coach or volunteers to teach computer literacy courses (two times per week)
  • Stipend for online tutors across Haiti
  • Stipend for local students who progress fast enough to be hired to help run the programs.

A video on struggles youth development organizations face in the Haiti

Youth Development Workshop Group from Jessa Cruz on Vimeo.