On January 12, 2010, an earthquake shook southwestern Haiti and leveled much of the capital city, Port-au-Prince. As a result, 87% of Haiti’s higher education institutions were impaired or completely demolished. A large segment of Haiti’s emerging skilled professionals were killed. An uncalculated number of professors, professionals and students have fled Haiti after the earthquake, contributing to the brain-drain of a critically needed people for the country.
The earthquake compounded a problem that already existed: a shortage of skilled and highly-trained professionals. Higher education must be a priority for Haiti’s rebuilding and long-term development strategy.
Just Haiti is collaborating with its coffee grower associations to initiate a university-level scholarship program for students of agronomy and business at accredited institutions of higher education in Haiti. Association members and members of their immediate family will be invited to apply.
Annual tuition and fees for university education in Haiti can total up to $1,200. In exchange for $1,000 annual tuition assistance, scholars will spend four weeks with grower communities each summer, working with farmers in the student’s area of specialty. The goal of this program is to support the grower associations in two ways:
1) promoting opportunities for rural students from underserved areas to obtain higher education and
2) strengthening overall coffee production and income through ongoing formation in farming techniques and business practices. Scholars will be chosen based on national test scores and financial need.
Scholarship recipients will agree to work for 4 weeks of summer vacation with grower communities and author a report based on this work experience. Given satisfactory academic progress and fulfillment of commitment to the grower communities, the scholarship will be renewed until the scholar’s studies are completed.
With this program, Just Haiti hopes to make university study a viable option in the rural areas where we work. Just Haiti will only commit to a student if scholarship funds exist to support the student annually for the duration of his or her two, four, or five-year program. We are seeking significant start-up funding in our inaugural year so that we can support all qualified students who apply.
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