OEIT Hosts MIT-Haiti Symposium on Transformation of Haiti’s Educational System

Published in MIT News: October 27, 2010

‘Build back better’
Symposium brings together MIT and Haiti educators to identify priority areas for collaboration.

Nearly all of Haiti’s universities are based in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and all of them were damaged in the January 2010 earthquake that killed 300,000 people. Now, as Haiti seeks to rebuild its education system following the devastating quake, MIT can be of great assistance by sharing its expertise in technology-enabled education to build a superior system that will make quality education available to more residents of the beleaguered Caribbean nation.

That was a key message to emerge last week at a two-day symposium attended by dozens of MIT faculty and staff, as well as Haitian university professors, administrators and technology experts. Hosted by MIT’s Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, the MIT-Haiti "Best Practices for Reconstruction" Symposium looked at the long-term, sustainable transformation of Haiti’s educational system.

MIT-Haiti Symposium October 2010

Participants discuss ideas to improve Haiti's educational system at October 2010 MIT-Haiti Symposium - Photos by Jeff Merriman

“Not only should we build facilities, but [we need to] build back better,” declared Michele Pierre-Louis, the former prime minister of Haiti and current executive director of the educational nonprofit, Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL).

That means taking advantage of MIT’s strengths in technology-enabled education —including the OpenCourseWare platform that provides almost all of MIT’s course content online for free, said OEIT Director Vijay Kumar, who co-chaired the symposium with Michel DeGraff, associate professor in MIT’s Department of Linguistics. “We have a remarkable opportunity not to just patch things up,” Kumar said. “The MIT faculty has expressed a lot of support for that, and the symposium was a tangible way to bootstrap that effort.”

View complete MIT News article