Universities in Haiti

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About universities in Haiti

Haiti, officially known as the Republic of Haiti, is a Caribbean country located on the western and smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antillean archipelago, an island which it shares with the Dominican Republic.  The country has a geographic area of roughly 10,700 square miles and a population of 9.7 million.  The capital and largest city in Haiti is Port-au-Prince and the official languages of the country are French (used in government, education, media, etc.) and Haitian Creole, a combination of French and indigenous Taino languages, which is used colloquially among most of the Haitian people
Higher education in Haiti, although available, faces many challenges.  With a few exceptions, only the wealthy can afford to seek a post-secondary education in the country, and even those students have been widely displaced due to the Janurary, 2010 earthquake that struck the capital city, destroying many of the higher education institutions.  Many of the students in Haiti (nearly 85%) who do earn an undergraduate or graduate degree tend to emigrate from the country in search of better opportunity and are now living abroad.  This statistic translates to a lack of educated and qualified teachers in the country, further hamstringing Haitian a student’s ability to receive a proper education.
Higher Education in Haiti:  Key Facts and Issues
Higher education in Haiti is overseen and administered by the national Ministry of Education and consists of four regional public universities, including a state university in the country’s capital; four other public institutions, each associated with their respective ministries (agriculture, finance, etc.); and 5 universities in the private sector, for a total of thirteen institutions.  Public universities are essentially free, requiring a fee of only 3,000 gourdes, the U.S. equivalent of $75.  Estimates on the actual number of students enrolled in higher education throughout the country vary greatly between 100,000 to 180,000, leading to very different estimates on the proportion of students in the private sector, from 40% to 80%.  The state university has the highest enrollment, with an estimated 11,000 students annually.  The bulk of the institutions of higher learning are located in or around the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
The curriculum at the four regional universities is set nationally by the Ministry of Education.  Students attending these universities can earn undergraduate (Bachelor), graduate (Master’s), and in some cases, post-graduate degrees (PhD) and specialty degrees (M.D., D.D.S, etc.) in fields that include law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, engineering, agriculture and veterinary sciences, education, social sciences (mainly ethnology and psychology), economics, business administration, linguistics, international studies, and African studies.
Private universities in Haiti, most of which are affiliated with religious organizations, can set their own curriculum and educational policy and hire their own faculty and staff.  Most follow the same basic structure of the public universities and institutions when it comes to degrees, and while the curriculum at each private institution varies, most offer many of the same academic and professional disciplines outlined above.
The three main issues that Haiti faces in terms of higher education are weak and muddled governance at both the national and university level, an inadequate capacity for research and, of course, the 2010 earthquake, from which the entire country is still trying to recover.  According to the United Nations, some 220,000 individuals perished as a result of the earthquake and most of the structures in and around Port-au-Prince were either damaged or completely destroyed.

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