The research described in this report was commissioned by the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP), a scholarship program that targets and supports the very highest achieving high- school graduates in Haiti who cannot otherwise afford to pay the costs of university education. The primary longitudinal goal of the research is to assess the extent to which HELP scholars are obtaining high-quality, university-level educations that most would otherwise not obtain; and if those students are contributing to Haiti’s national pool of leadership in ways and to a degree that non-HELP students are not. A secondary objective is to provide a historical and current description of Haiti’s national higher-educational system. And a third objective is to provide what, to our knowledge, is the first study of its kind in Haiti: a statistically representative profile of the challenges that all Haitian college students face in achieving a higher education (e.g. paying tuition, dealing with inefficiency school registration and bureaucracy, locating tutoring and supplemental education resources such as online academic libraries, overcoming absenteeism among professors and suspended classes due to demonstrations and strikes, etc.)
The research builds on past studies that HELP commissioned from FONKOZE (2012-2014) and Dare2Impact (2015). The Sociodig team leader reviewed these studies as well as other available literature on Haitian higher education. The Sociodig research team then conducted 10 focus groups—six with non-HELP university students and four with HELP students; and applied a questionnaire to 1,084 randomly selected university students living in Port-au-Prince– referred to in this report as the General Student Population sample– as well as 116 of HELP’s 124 current scholarship beneficiaries– referred to in the following pages as the HELP student sample. The literature review , focus groups and mentioned surveys are used in this report to provide a profile of Haitian higher education, the students, their backgrounds and strategies for negotiating challenges of higher education in Haiti, and the impact of the HELP program from the perspectives of those who benefit from it.