APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
With an unwavering commitment to its mission, UoPeople aims to expand its reach to Haiti. In partnership with the Haitian Connection Network and the World Computer Exchange, UoPeople will strategically build learning centers in Port-au-Prince. The learning centers will be equipped with computers with high speed Internet connection to enable the students participating in the project to have access to the UoPeople online courses.
The learning centers will be open sufficient hours per day to meet demand, maximizing the space and the number of students who are able to study. UoPeople will ensure that adequate support staff is in place to guarantee the smooth operation of the learning centers.
Prospective students will be able to apply to UoPeople via any computer, including those located at the learning centers, which will double as Admissions Centers. Rigorous on-the-ground screening will ensure that prospective students have the skills to successfully complete the program, including proficiency in English and a high school diploma, the equivalent of a BACC.
UoPeople will accept applicants for studies which will commence in 2010 and 2011. Each student will study with their peers around the world for the span of two to three years. Each UoPeople course takes place over a 10-week term. A total of 18 courses are required for an Associate's Degree. Completion of two courses per term will enable a student to graduate in two years; however, UoPeople permits students up to three years to complete an Associate's Degree.
The student body is divided into classes of about 20 students, all participating in the same online course. Each course has a virtual classroom in which students must participate on a weekly basis, contribute to the discussion with their peers under the guidance of a course instructor, and submit weekly assignments. Students also have access to a larger course forum, where they have the option to delve into more in-depth questions and discussions related to the course topics. While many UoPeople students around the world study online at home, work or at Internet cafes, Haitian students, who largely do not have access to online resources, will be able to study at the UoPeople learning centers.
Once accepted, students will take two mandatory orientation courses and, upon successfully passing these courses, will be able to continue with their studies towards an Associate's Degree, in either Business Administration or Computer Science.
Business Administration and Computer Science degree programs are offered by UoPeople because graduates in these disciplines are globally in demand and are of particular importance for developing countries. A degree in Business Administration equips students with improved skills in entrepreneurship, economic management and business development. Computer Science is a rapidly growing field and students of this degree will gain highly sought after skills in programming and technology. Having gained knowledge and skill sets heavily in demand in Haiti, UoPeople students in Haiti will finish their studies with drastically improved employment prospects, which in turn will lead to not only these students' improved socio-economic status, but, via the trickle-down effect, to their families and community as well . UoPeople graduates in Haiti will be able to aspire to and achieve gainful employment, boosting Haiti's human capital and its local economy.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
For the first term of the project, UoPeople, together with the help of its partners, will establish one learning center in Port-au-Prince which will be equipped with eight computers, satellite Internet connection, office furniture, an electric generator and a security guard. This learning center will be used by this commitment's inaugural class of approximately 15 Haitian students.
Over the next year, UoPeople will open additional centers which will house up to 90 computers and will be open up to seven days a week. These learning centers will serve approximately 250 students who will graduate within the three year time period of the commitment. Students who are able to study at home can visit the learning centers regularly for additional support and resources.
While UoPeople recognizes that its English language proficiency requirement may prove difficult for potential students, the University will do its utmost to reach out to and accept as many qualified applicants as possible. UoPeople also places special importance on the needs of women, who are historically underrepresented in higher education in Haiti. Taking note of cultural norms and the significantly higher rate of male high school graduates in Haiti, UoPeople will devote additional resources to reaching female students through targeted outreach and collaboration with its partners in the field.
Upon completion of the three year commitment, which will enable students commencing in 2010 and 2011 sufficient time to complete their Associate's Degree programs, UoPeople hopes to continue to serve the Haitian community, recognizing that effective rebuilding in Haiti requires a long-term effort and approach. The organization will evaluate the Commitment with the view to enabling each suitable Associate's Degree graduate the opportunity to continue his or her studies at UoPeople and earn a Bachelor's Degree in their chosen field.
The 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti's higher education sector. Twenty-eight of Haiti's 32 major universities were completely destroyed and the four remaining universities were severely damaged. Thus, as a result of the earthquake, 87% of Haiti's higher education institutions, according to a 2010 report by the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development, are either no longer operational or are severely impaired. In addition, a large number of professors, academics, teaching staff and tertiary students were killed. Many of those that survived fled the country, creating an exodus of professionally trained individuals with the knowledge, experience, and talent necessary to drive and assist in Haiti's rebuilding efforts.
Even prior to the disaster, Haiti's higher education system was underdeveloped and served only a fraction of secondary school graduates. According to the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development, in 2007, Haiti had a population of 9.8 million people, of which only 40,000 were university students, making Haiti's total higher education enrollment ratio among the lowest in the world, with many qualified students choosing to study abroad where, relative to the situation in Haiti, educational opportunities abound.
UoPeople will provide Haitian students with the opportunity to attain higher education without having to leave Haiti, not only empowering individual project participants, but also raising the standards for, and access to, higher education, thereby helping to restore and repair civil society in Port-au-Prince and aid in the country's critical recovery. By encouraging Haitian students to study at home, UoPeople will also help counter the country's 'brain drain' which has seen Haiti's brightest and most talented minds leave the country for greater educational opportunities abroad.
At present, the Haitian population, especially in the Port-au-Prince region, largely lacks access to shelter, food and water, let alone electricity, computers and the Internet. UoPeople will therefore provide qualified students, who possess the drive to learn but not the resources to do so, the requisite tools to access higher education through the establishment of UoPeople learning centers in the Port-au-Prince area where students can study online. The UoPeople learning centers will each be equipped with computers, Internet access and other necessary educational resources creating an oasis where students can pursue their studies in Business Administration or Computer Science.