March 18, 2010

UWI to offer places to 200 Haitian students

Julien Neaves
Wednesday, March 17th 2010

UNIVERSITY of the West Indies Vice Chancellor E. Nigel Harris says UWI will be offering places to Haitian students as part of efforts to assist the tertiary education sector in Haiti, following the devastating January 12 earthquake there.

UWI St Augustine Campus Principal, Prof Clement Sankat, on Monday told the media that about 75 students may be accommodated at the Trinidad campus and the Mona campus in Jamaica had agreed to accommodate 100 students. He noted, however, that the final figures were still to be confirmed.

Harris said that while UWI may accommodate 200 students, there were thousands of Haitians who needed to be educated and they will be exploring the provision of online education and distance learning.

He was speaking at the Association of Universities and Research Institutes of the Caribbean (UNICA) annual general meeting and conference, entitled ’Partnership for Sustainable Development: A Call to Action for Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes to Partner with Haiti for the Rebuilding of its Tertiary Sector’, at UWI, St Augustine.

Dr Jocelyne Trouillot, rector of Université Caraibe, Haiti, speaking through a translator, welcomed the idea of distance learning to assist the sector. She reported that Haitian universities are generally concentrated in the capital Port-au-Prince and they recorded 90 per cent destruction from the earthquake.

She said at her university, the bodies of some students still had not been recovered from the rubble and many teachers and professors were either killed or are unaccounted for. She said, however, that Haiti was ’a nation of fighters’ and there was now the opportunity to make tertiary education a priority and improve the system which was disorganised.

Trouillot noted that priority should be placed on assisting students about to finish their studies. She said although universities in Europe and the US had offered places for students, it had to be done in an orderly manner.

Professorial research fellow at UWI’s Graduate Institute of International Relations, Prof Norman Girvan, said a reform of the Haitian education system and establishment of a full ministry of education were necessary, saying rebuilding the tertiary education sector was required for the country’s sustainability.

He noted that the assistance would require a sustained commitment of between five and ten years.

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