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Rector Jean-Vernet Henry

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I am Jean-Vernet Henry, I'm the Rector at the State University in Haiti It's the biggest university that exists in the country. We have 26,000 students and this 26,000 represents 2/3 of the students in the country We're present in Port-au-Prince, we're also present in different other cities in the country and at this time we are hit really hard because of the earthquake Well, when I say the university has been hit it's to say that we've lost 350 students we've lost about twenty professors and twenty other members of the staff plus out of about 13 buildings that we have for the schools we lost nine of them and the ones that are left are badly damaged. They need extensive reperations in order to be functional only two of the buildings aren't damaged and are usable, it's the school of dentistry and the school of ethnology they are the only two that don't have much damage. Aside from that all the other schools, even if they are still standing they need to be broken down and rebuilt they are worthless So that's our biggest problem right now, to reconstruct this university because it isn't possible to resume classes in these buildings we're working with about 30 hectares that we have right now that can serve to build a real university campus We've never had a campus. It was a university that had all the schools spread out Now we're going to bring them together to build one big campus that way we will be able to pull all our means and resources together and make better use of them that way we'll be able to use our teachers more effectively and our students will benefit from these increased means of these increased services at the university Indeed it is a big problem that we have right now because the state university has no money and the government in Haiti is never really interested in the university and that's what we have so we must open our doors, the students need to attend class because we cannot leave the students outside under the tents or in the provinces If the university opens its doors it will make it possible for the students to complete the academic year and it will also allow them to find something to occupy their mind so they can forget what just happened because it's a terrible thing that just happened to us and the more we can help the students get back to their activities the more they'll be able to more or less forget, well not forget but at least assuage the pain that's felt throughout the population because it is a terrible thing we just went through. Something we couldn't imagine and it's something that is perturbing many students and many people in the country Well, the big problem you see when looking at the state university in the country it's that after the earthquake, there was an evaluation of the damage being conducted in the country and they didn't consider the university at all in that evaluation we were working to see if we could be included in the plan they were preparing for the country but when we got there the United Nations said no, higher education would not be taken into account but we insisted, we said that it wasn't possible they couldn't possibly talk about reconstruction and not include the universities In every developped country the universities play an important role in the future of the country they set the framework needed for change in the country they bring about not only employement but also important studies from people who are thinkers But they told us they weren't concerned with the universities We fought long and hard to be included but to no avail because even in the big discussion they had in New York the president spoke at length about higher education and universities but when you check the documents, nothing was allocated to universities Universities are nowhere mentioned so it's one of our biggest problem how to collect our resources so we can rebuild the state university because it's the only university that accepts everyone, regardless of whether or not you have money, as long as you have the knowledge and the capability you're in matter of fact one of our biggest challenges is expanding so we can accept more people at the state university because that's where all Haitians go. Lack of money will not keep you from attending school there if you meet the requirements of admission you're in that's a big challenge, how to rebuild the university and establish it in other areas of the country so everybody doesn't have to come to Port-au-Prince to study you could study in Cap Haition or in Les Cayes or Hinche or Port-de-Paix or Gonaives that's our idea to decentralize the university and that's why we're reaching out to other universities to help us train and educate professors so we can hire them at that level There's something you must understand, in general, universities are not financing entities. But when you cooporate with a university it can help augment the value of your university, to help you become stronger because our university is very deficient we are lacking in many areas if we're in contact with a large institution, they will be able to help us train professors and collaborate with us in research projects That can help add value to the university and it will also help us train people who can take over and maintain that level. When we talk about decentralization we will need a lot of professors in different campuses that we will build in the country so it is from our collaborations with these universites that will be able to train these people and we've discussed this with FIU and we've discussed this with the University of Miami where we presented these concrete challenges so we can develop our university and I found out that the University of Miami already has some roots in Haiti but they don't attain the level of higher education, the level of the universities so now we're targeting these contacts so they can reach the level of the universities and establish a better rapport so we can have that relationship so we can have many specializations we can go from what the University of Miami can offer the State University in Haiti and we can form a partnership that will reinforce us the same way we made an agreement with FIU we will do the same with the University of Miami that will allow us to coordonate our efforts and each of us can gain from it that will serve to the interest of the university and the interest of the country well, I just emphasized this a little while ago all developped countries are developped from their universities you could ascertain the condition of a country from the condition of its universities the way a university looks reveals the condition of the country There were several underdevelopped countries that today we call emerging countries. That's because they understand the importance of Universities the importance of higher education. They invest in higher education They invest in research because that's how you build understanding and that's what prepares the future of a country the development of a country and that's why I do beleive that if we invest in higher education in the state university we can guaranti the future of this country we can really change the society because that's the level at which you can really change a country, when you change the way people think in a country when you provide competence in this country you provide talent at that level, you will certainly be able to change this country I should be the one thanking you for this opportunity to speak to the Haitians in Miami so they can hear our determination to change the university and I'm sure that we will be calling out to the diaspora to help out and invest It will be a worthy investment, an investment to change the country.

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 12 seconds
Country: United States
Genre: None
Views: 383
Posted by: koze on Apr 17, 2010

Rector Jean-Vernet Henry discusses the future of higher education in Haiti following the earthquake.

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