Our mission is to promote technology-enhanced active learning and the use of Kreyòl in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, to help Haitians learn in the language most of them speak at home.
In Haiti, 95 percent of the population is fluent in Kreyòl only; at most 5% of the Haitian population speaks French fluently. “In Haiti’s classrooms,” said Guerda Jean-Guillaume, professor at the Training Center for Fundamental Schools in Haiti, “most children do not like to ask or answer questions. They are constantly struggling to translate from Kreyòl into French or from French into Kreyòl.”
French is the primary language of instruction in Haiti’s classrooms. School exams as well as national assessment tests are mostly conducted in French, rather than Kreyòl, and STEM course materials for high schools and universities have been available almost exclusively in French — until recently when the work of pro-Kreyòl educators both in Haiti and abroad, including work by the MIT-Haiti Initiative, started showing the key benefits of a Kreyòl-based education at all levels of the education system.
This Initiative meets a crucial need in Haiti. It introduces modern techniques and tools for interactive pedagogy in STEM while contributing to the development, by Haitians and for Haitians, of digital resources and curricula in Kreyòl.
“The basic premise of our initiative,” DeGraff explains, “is that using Kreyòl for Haitian education is an essential ingredient to improving quality and access for education for all.”
Working with Haitian counterparts, we are engaged in
- Faculty development at the secondary and post-secondary levels with impact on primary levels: We are training 60+ faculty per year in active-learning techniques through MIT-Haiti workshops, and our Haitian colleagues will continue to offer their own training workshops to teachers around the country.
- Co-creation of active-learning curricula in Kreyòl to democratize access to STEM: Teachers steeped in these approaches will help improve Haiti’s school system and usher unprecedented systemic change in education.
- Focused consultations with Haitian partners on local curriculum and pedagogical practice: Experts from MIT are collaborating with educators at Haitian universities and a K-13 school to help improve STEM curricula and pedagogical practice.
- Creation of modular curriculum elements to support active learning of STEM content in Kreyòl.
How We Work
“Onè! Respè” is a traditional Kreyòl greeting in the countryside in Haiti, meaning “Honor! Respect!” In the MIT-Haiti Initiative, we co-create active learning lesson plans and STEM materials that are site-appropriate for the Haitian environment.
We see how Kreyòl-based classroom tools and methods have the potential to shift educational outcomes toward both distributive and political equity. The MIT-Haiti Initiative proves that a tight collaboration between humanists, educators, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers is a winning option for all concerned. Linguistics is critical, alongside education and STEM, for tackling global challenges, especially in promoting participatory readiness and distributive justice in disenfranchised communities that speak disenfranchised local languages—in Haiti and beyond.
As Haiti learns from this joint initiative with MIT, so does MIT learn from Haiti.
This post is also available in: Haitian Kreyòl