The 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti's higher education sector, a crucial factor in rebuilding efforts and sustainable development. Twenty-eight of Haiti's 32 major universities were completely destroyed and the four remaining universities were severely damaged. A majority of the professors and students who survived fled the country.
In November 2010, at the Clinton Global Initiative, UoPeople committed to accepting 250 qualified Haitian youth to study free online, helping them access education and develop the skills needed to rebuild their country.
UoPeople believes that education can provide a longer term solution for Haiti. Helping Haiti is not only unique in regards to individuals’ economic and living conditions after the earthquakes’ devastation, but also because of the country’s “brain drain.” Many of Haiti’s most educated and skilled survivors left the country in search of better opportunities abroad after the earthquake, and a significant number of other talented youth, who were accepted to foreign Universities, stayed abroad and never returned to Haiti. In order to fight this "brain drain" effect on the country's ability to rebuild itself, University of the People provides higher education to Haiti’s youth in Haiti – where they can be educated as well as then remain in Haiti - and by staying, become future leaders critical in assisting with rebuilding the country.
The practicalities of succeeding with educational efforts in Haiti are distinctive in that serving Haitian’s youth demands the creation of local alliances. Unlike in some other countries, where many students have access to computers and steady internet connection; in Haiti, many potential students lost everything in the earthquake and consequently, live in tents. Moreover, refugees living in such conditions are unlikely to read international press publications where UoPeople is largely covered, and to hear about their ability to study tuition-free. In order to overcome these issues, UoPeople teamed up with local allies to spread the word about the University, screen and recruit potential candidates, locate places for students to go to study, furnish these places with computers, ensure electricity and back-up generators and provide satellite internet. The establishment of all Student Computer Centers is done through alliance with local NGO’s: Haitian Connection Network, the Foundation for the Technological and Economic Advancement of Mirebalais (FATEM), and the ETRE Ayisyen Foundation. The growing success in Haiti of the model of student centers created with local allies is one which UoPeople can utilize further to reach students - worldwide - who are qualified to study but do not have computers or internet connectivity.
In relation to media, the UoPeople Haiti Project has continuously received positive media coverage including in CNN and USA Today. Additionally, The Huffington Post nominated Founder & President Shai Reshef as the Ultimate Game Changer in Education, largely because of the work being done by UoPeople in Haiti.
UoPeople has fulfilled its commitment to accept 250 Haitian students in May 2014.
To make this commitment a reality for additional students we need your help - Please donate today!
“After high school, I could not go to university because it was too expensive. Every day, I would stand in the street talking with my friends about what we would do if we had money. We hoped that 2010 would be better, but then the earthquake destroyed everything, houses, businesses and many lives. Since that day, I have been sleeping in the street, under a tent, and nobody cares about my education anymore. University of the People is better than food and a tent. And education is even better than a visa or a green card.” - Elysée, UoPeople student
“My name is Joe Jean. I'm from Haiti. I'm a survivor of the January 12 devastating earthquake. Later in March 2010, I was admitted to University of the People. In order to succeed at UoPeople, I had to overcome many obstacles such as expensive internet access in the Cyber Cafe, long power outages, difficult living conditions, and more. Fortunately, I passed my two orientation courses with A grades. And today I'm both proud and glad to be about to start my sophomore year at this revolutionary venture.” – Joe, UoPeople student.
“If I did not know of UoPeople, I’m sure I would still be like the majority of my fellow Haitians: Jobless and forced to fight daily to survive, with an uncertain future. Now with UoPeople, I know that I have a lot of chances to become what I have wished to become: A man well educated and able to reach his goals.” – Gardy, UoPeople student.
“I, Sadrac Saint Victor, seize this opportunity to write this thank you message to all the people that have contributed in order to help the Haitian people – especially during this period, while these people are facing the hardest period in their existence…Helping students to keep on studying by giving them scholarship, educative materials and food – is not a plain thing. I am very grateful towards you for this tuition-free service and the food that you provide. Let me remind you that you have just done something which is really appreciated by all the students; So, I want to thank you deeply and honorably for this…Thank you all very much.” – Sadrac, UoPeople student