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A New Leadership Model for a New Haiti

Prime minister and cabinet members attend leadership workshop with MIT professors.
MIT Sloan School of Management
August 4, 2014

Two MIT professors traveled to Haiti this summer to conduct an intensive leadership workshop with the country’s prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, and more than 50 Haitian government ministers and cabinet members.

MIT Sloan professor Deborah Ancona tailored her Transforming Your Leadership Strategy course from MIT Sloan Executive Education specifically to the needs of Haiti’s top government leaders. The workshop took place June 26-28 in Pétion-Ville, near Port-au-Prince.

“There was the goal of teaching a new language of leadership, the 4-CAP model, to the ministers,” Ancona said. “Another goal was to have people engage in exercises and become more comfortable working with each other. Participants also identified their own leadership signatures, learning their unique ways of leading. On the final day people shared their visions of an emerging Haiti and invented cross-ministry plans to make the visions a reality.”

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Leadership lessons in Haiti

In search of positive change: Deborah Ancona (left), Laurent Lamothe and Michel DeGraff
The poverty-stricken Caribbean country of Haiti faces intense challenges. A World Bank report in 2014 states that Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas and one of the poorest in the world. Its problems were exacerbated by the devastating earthquake in 2010.

But the government appears to be making genuine efforts to bring about positive change and has even enlisted the help of a US business school. MIT Sloan has been working with the Haitian government and its educators as part of an initiative to tackle economic regeneration, poverty and the modernisation of education.

Deborah Ancona, professor of management at MIT Sloan and director of MIT’s leadership centre, recently ran a leadership workshop for more than 55 members of Haiti’s government, including Laurent Lamothe, the prime minister.

“I was extraordinarily impressed by the officials’ passion and dedication to Haiti,” says Prof Ancona, who ran the two-and-a-half day leadership training workshop in Port-au-Prince.

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MIT launching initiative to help Haiti

[NECN Business] It’s been four years since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.

Now there’s an initiative at MIT to help the people of Haiti get their economy back on track and to create business and education opportunities.

Michel DeGraff and Deborah Ancona, professors at MIT, say they were inspired to help by helping the country develop a STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – curriculum.

“After the earthquake, the entire school system was destroyed, so we felt that MIT could help Haiti rebuild better by producing better curriculum in STEM,” DeGraff said about the initiative’s start in 2010.

So far, MIT’s initiative has hosted four workshops that have trained more than 100 teachers.

Ancona says there’s also a political leadership component the initiative recently launched.

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MIT Sloan Executive Education Creates Leadership Initiative for Haitian Cabinet

First-of-its-Kind Program Provides Haitian Leaders with Professional Training in U.S.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–MIT Sloan Executive Education, in partnership with the government of Haiti, has created a new educational initiative to provide management and leadership training to members of the Haitian cabinet for the first time. Haitian ministers and senior officials are invited to participate in executive education courses offered by the MIT School of Management, learning concepts and tools that can be applied to real-world challenges facing their ministries, such as poverty-alleviation, economic regeneration, and rebuilding Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

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MIT-Haiti Initiative Uses Haitian Creole to Make Learning Truly Active, Constructive, and Interactive

Chrisla Fleurant (left) and Dieuricarme Rivière (4th graders) enjoying technology-enhanced interactive learning of math in Kreyòl at Lekòl Kominotè Matènwa in La Gonave, Haiti. Credit: Michel DeGraff


Chrisla Fleurant (left) and Dieuricarme Rivière (4th graders) enjoying technology-enhanced interactive learning of math in Kreyòl at Lekòl Kominotè Matènwa in La Gonave, Haiti. Credit: Michel DeGraff



An MIT-Haiti Initiative to modernize and democratize education in Haiti.

Until today, quality education in Haiti has been available only to very few. This is due to brutal socio-economic impediments, including a well-entrenched language barrier: French, the primary language of instruction, is spoken by a tiny élite (no more than 10% and perhaps as low as 3%) whereas Haitian Creole aka “Kreyòl” is the one language spoken by all. In this article, I’d like to share a Haiti story to inspire current efforts to open access to quality education on a global scale.

Once upon a time, in 2010 actually, with the help of colleagues in Haiti and at MIT, we began an MIT-Haiti Initiative to modernize and democratize education in Haiti. Since then, we have been working on the creation, evaluation and dissemination of high-quality digital technologies that use Kreyòl as an indispensable tool for active learning—active learning that is both constructive and interactive. This is the first time that online resources in Kreyòl are being created for science and math at universities and high schools, and we are thankful to MIT, the Wade Fund, the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (“FOKAL”) in Port-au-Prince, the Open Society Foundations and the National Science Foundation for their support of this project.

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Go, Haiti, Go!

Credit: MIT-Haiti Initiative, Creative Commons By-NC-SA

This is a video album of the visit at MIT on April 17, 2013, of Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and his delegation for the signing of an agreement between the MIT-Haiti Initiative (http://haiti.mit.edu) and Haiti’s Ministry of National Education and Professional Development (MENFP). The main purpose of this agreement is for the development of a plan whereby Kreyòl-based and technology-enhanced tools and methods can be integrated into the MENFP’s strategies for curriculum and faculty development. Since 2010, the MIT-Haiti Initiative is bolstering the capacity-building efforts of Haitian higher education through the creation, evaluation and dissemination of high-quality active-learning resources in Kreyòl for the teaching of science and math at universities and secondary schools. This is a collaborative effort among MIT and various institutions in Haiti, currently including: Université Caraïbe, Faculté des Sciences and École Normale Supérieure of the Université d’État d’Haiti, École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti, Université Quisqueya, NATCOM, MENFP, etc. The Initiative so far has received funding and support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1248066) as well as the Foundation for Knowledge & Liberty (“FOKAL,” in Haiti) and Open Society Foundation, the Wade Fund and MIT (in the U.S.).

Physics resources (PhET) now available in Kreyòl

PhET provides fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena for free. To help students visually comprehend concepts, PhET simulations animate what is invisible to the eye through the use of graphics and intuitive controls such as click-and-drag manipulation, sliders and radio buttons. In order to further encourage quantitative exploration, the simulations also offer measurement instruments including rulers, stop-watches, voltmeters and thermometers. As the user manipulates these interactive tools, responses are immediately animated thus effectively illustrating cause-and-effect relationships as well as multiple linked representations (motion of the objects, graphs, number readouts, etc.).

During the January 2013 workshop, the MIT team worked with Haitian faculty to translate a set of PhETs into Haitian Kreyòl. Translated PhETs can be run and downloaded from University of Colorado PhET website.

Ayiti Pare (Haiti is ready)

Credit: MIT-Haiti Initiative, Creative Commons By-NC-SA

Video by George Zaidan on the MIT-Haiti Initiative which aims to develop, evaluate and disseminate Open Educational Resources in Kreyòl in order to enhance the capacity for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (“STEM”) teaching and learning in Haiti. This 6-minute video sketches the rationale, methods and aspirations of the Initiative, a project funded mainly by the U.S. National Science Foundation: INSPIRE: Kreyol-based Cyberlearning for a New Perspective on the Teaching of STEM in local Languages and also by MIT, the Wade Fund, the Open Society Foundations, and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL) in Haiti.

MIT and Haiti sign agreement to promote Kreyòl-language STEM education

Peter Dizikes, MIT News
April 17, 2013

MIT and Haiti signed a new joint initiative today to promote Kreyòl-language education in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, part of an effort to help Haitians learn in the language most of them speak at home.

“This government will make every effort to make this initiative a big success,” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said at the signing ceremony in MIT’s Vannevar Bush Room. “Haiti is moving forward.”

The project is taking MIT-developed and technologically based open education resources, translating those materials into Kreyòl, disseminating them in Haiti, and evaluating the materials’ effectiveness. The work is being done in conjunction with professors and educators from a variety of institutions in Haiti, including the State University of Haiti, Université Caraïbe, École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti, Université Quisqueya, NATCOM and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty.

“MIT folks are very collaborative,” MIT Provost Chris Kaiser said at the event. The initiative, he added, represented MIT’s “desire to do good in the world.”

The idea that more Haitian education should occur in Kreyòl is a longtime belief of MIT linguistics professor Michel DeGraff, a native of Haiti, who has contended that Kreyòl has been improperly marginalized in the Haitian classroom. DeGraff’s extensive research on public perceptions of Kreyòl, and on the language itself, has led him to assert that its perception as a kind of exceptionally simplified hybrid tongue, in comparison to English or French, unfairly diminishes the language.

The initiative is meant not to replace French, DeGraff added, but to help Kreyòl-speaking students “build a solid foundation in their own language.”

The technology-based open education resources, he noted, are meant to promote “active learning,” as opposed to drill-based rote learning techniques.

The initiative is being funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and by MIT.

Alongside DeGraff, the project has been developed with the guidance of Vijay Kumar, a principal investigator of the MIT-Haiti Initiative for Kreyòl-based and technology-enhanced STEM education and director of the MIT Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, and Thomas Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-director of MIT’s Initiatives in Haiti, coordinating such efforts across the Institute.

New educational resources are badly needed in Haiti, especially after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country, Lamothe noted. Rebuilding with Kreyòl-language educational tools will help provide “access to quality education for all,” given that 97 percent of Haitians speak Kreyòl. About 50 percent of Haitians have an income of less than $1 per day.

Lamothe added: “The most productive partnership for Haiti [is] about empowering Haitians to fly with their own wings.”

Reprinted with permission of MIT News. Photos Courtesy of Dominick Reuter.

From left to right: Director of MIT's Office of Educational Innovation and Technology Vijay Kumar, MIT Provost Chris Kaiser, Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, MIT Linguistics Professor Michel DeGraff and Haiti Minister of National Education and Vocational Training Vanneur Pierre at the signing of a joint commitment to an initiative for digital learning in Kreyòl.

From left to right: Director of MIT’s Office of Educational Innovation and Technology Vijay Kumar, MIT Provost Chris Kaiser, Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, MIT Linguistics Professor Michel DeGraff and Haiti Minister of National Education and Vocational Training Vanneur Pierre at the signing of a joint commitment to an initiative for digital learning in Kreyòl.

Photos Courtesy of Dominick Reuter

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