MIT to help promote STEM education in Haiti
In an effort to spur more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in Haiti, MIT resources will be translated into Kreyòl language and distributed throughout the country under an agreement signed Thursday between the university and the Haitian prime minister.
The joint initiative, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and MIT, will not only translate and disseminate MIT-developed and technologically-based open education resources, but will also evaluate their effectiveness, according to a statement from the university. The work will be done in conjunction with professors and educators from institutions in Haiti, including the State University of Haiti, Université Carïbe, École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti, Université Quisqueya, NATCOM and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty.
Kreyòl is one of two principal languages spoken in Haiti (the other is French), and the idea to teach more in Kreyòl is a longtime belief of MIT linguistics professor Michell Degraff, a native of Haiti. DeGraff’s research on public perceptions of Kreyòl indicates that most people consider the language as a “kind of hybrid tongue, in comparison to English or French, (which) unfairly diminishes the language.”
The agreement was signed Thursday in MIT’s Vannevar Bush Room by Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and MIT Provost Chris Kaiser.
New educational resources are needed in Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country, and Kreyòl-language educational tools will help provide “access to quality education for all,” according to Lamothe, given that 97 percent of Haitians speak Kreyòl.