The disastrous earthquake that took place in Haiti on January 12, 2010 had a profound impact on students, faculty and the overall capacity of academic institutions to continue addressing the educational needs of Haiti's workforce.
In response to this disaster, Canada is working on several fronts to help reduce poverty in Haiti. Efforts are particularly aimed at improving access to health and education services, and at developing basic infrastructure, such as roads, and electricity.
To help meet the immediate needs of Haiti's postsecondary institutions and help Haitian students resume their studies, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) launched a pilot initiative called the Canada-Haiti Scholarships Initiative. The objective of this $1.2M initiative is to alleviate immediate challenges of post-secondary institutions as well as to foster lasting linkages between Canadian and Haitian institutions.
The Canada-Haiti Scholarships Initiative includes three components designed for Haitian students and faculty, as well as Canadian and Haitian academic institutions.
The objective of the Canada- Haiti Academic Projects Scholarship is to support joint academic projects between Canadian and Haitian institutions aimed at increasing the capacity of Haiti's academic institutions, enable Haitian students to resume their studies, and strengthen skills in an effort to promote prosperity in the country.
In its first year (2010-2011), 20 projects were funded under this scholarship. Projects focused mainly on training, in Haiti, of large numbers of students or faculty members in a variety of disciplines. Many of the projects offered training in the medical field, including surgery, gynaecology, anaesthesia and nursing. Other projects focused on the professional training of electricians, plumbers, carpenters and masons.
75 Haitian students have had the opportunity to study in Canada under the scholarship program. Focussing on various fields including Agronomy, Business Administration, Social Services, Urban Development, Management, Accounting, and Management of Heritage, these students will contribute to fostering leadership and growth in Haiti. Short-term study opportunities in Canada are designed to enable Haitian students and faculty at the college, professional, undergraduate, and graduate level to study in Canada for a short period, offered through DFAIT's existing Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) and Canada-CARICOM Faculty Leadership Pilot Program.
As part of the ELAP scholarship, a study tour was offered to a select number of students. The objective of the tour was to expose students to Canadian models of democratic governance, human rights, civil society and the rule of law as well as to enrich their understanding in those areas. They had the opportunity to meet with the Governor General, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the then-Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, as well as the Groupe de Réflexion et d'Action pour une Haïti Nouvelle (GRAHN). Over the course of the week, the students also took part in over 30 activities, including meetings with people from the Quebec Provincial Government like Emmanuel Dubourg, as well as the University of Laval, the Montreal Police, Radio-Canada, Senator Pierette Ringuette, and the Honourable Brian W. Lennox from the National Judicial Institute.
The Canada-Haiti Virtual University Scholarship offers eight certificate programs in French in fields that have been identified as priorities by members of Haiti's academic community. All of the programs are entirely distance learning with courses given over the Internet. A total of 53 students have registered in the various programs.
Because of infrastructural damage and accessibility issues, three institutions have offered their facilities to allow students to take part in the virtual distance learning program.
Due to the overall success of this first year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada has decided to renew this initiative for a second year. In February 2011, a competition was launched under the first and second components. Although the ELAP and the FLPP competitions are open to all students of Latin America and/or the CARICOM, a specific number of awards under each program has been reserved for Haitian students or faculty members. Competitions for the ELAP, FLPP and the Canada-Haiti Academic Projects Scholarship closed on the 19th of April and results will be announced in June. As for the Canada-Haiti Virtual University Scholarship Program, the number of selected students in 2010-2011 exceeded the number originally planned. Therefore, a new competition will not be launched for the time being.
Please visit International Scholarships for more information on this initiative.