Above: the signing ceremony at MIT (Photo: Dominick Reuter/MIT)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have signed an agreement to promote Creole-language education in science, technology, engineering and math.
The agreement was signed during Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s visit to the Cambridge, Mass.-based institution on Wednesday.
“This government will make every effort to make this initiative a big success,” Lamothe said at the signing ceremony. “Haiti is moving forward.”
The project will translate open education resources, translate them into Creole and distribute them in Haiti.
That will be done by a group of educators from schools including the State University of Haiti, Université Carïbe, École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti, Université Quisqueya, NATCOM and the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty.
MIT Professor Michel DeGraff, who was born in Haiti, has long pushed for more education in Creole in Haiti, arguing that the language, spoken by a around 97 percent of Haitians, has been “improperly marginalized.”
But he said the initiative was not meant to replace French — rather, to help students “build a solid foundation in their own language.”
The United States National Science Foundation and MIT will be funding the initiative, which was developed by DeGraff, Vijay Jumar, an investigator at the MIT-Haiti Initiative and Thomas Kochan, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
“The most productive partnership for Haiti [is] about empowering Haitians to fly with their own wings,” Lamothe said.