Haitian Academy Boosts Enrollment Through Innovation
Instructors and administrators at the University of Haiti developed an innovative program to combat low student participation due to scheduling conflicts and high enrollment costs.
Adapt to Serve
In 2003, the Faculty of Science within the University of Haiti in Port au-Prince began teaching Cisco Networking Academy courses. Since then, more than 100 students have successfully completed the Cisco CCNA 4 curriculum. According to Max Larson Henry, the legal main contact at the academy, an initial challenge encountered in Haiti, where the GDP per capita is US$460, was low student participation due to high enrollment costs. To combat this issue, university administrators and instructors developed an innovative program called Adapt to Serve.
Adapt to Serve originated from an assessment of local socioeconomic conditions. Recognizing that a large portion of the target student population could not afford the course fees, staff members at the academy found ways to reduce administrative costs and developed a recruitment plan that involved marketing the program to two different populations: professionals and students from underserved communities.
For underserved communities, the academy offers scholarships, reduced enrollment fees for women, and flexible scheduling options to provide greater opportunities for students to participate. Since these measures have been implemented, the program has become much more attractive for students and ICT professionals in Haiti.
The academy at the University of Haiti also excels in the area of female recruitment; maintaining 30 percent female enrollment since inception. An all-female class for students and professionals has been offered at the academy since December 2005. Gender-focused programs at the academy led to a partnership with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which provides scholarships for women. The academy has also been working with local NGOs to form partnerships for the recruitment of female candidates from low-income families.
One of the students who attended the all-female class, Nathalie Neptune, has now become a CCNA instructor. Neptune was studying electronics at the university when she enrolled in the CCNA 1 course. As she progressed through all four semesters of the CCNA curriculum, Neptune became a program analyst for Turbo Systems, an IT engineering society. In 2005, the University of Haiti offered Neptune the opportunity to become a Networking Academy instructor. The university sponsored Neptune's training at North Florida Community College. Despite the language barrier, Neptune was able to excel in her training due to her hands-on experience with Cisco equipment during her CCNA studies.
Partnerships have played a key role in the success of the academy at the University of Haiti in the areas of workforce development, gender inclusion, and financial sustainability. Partners such as the North Florida Community College CATC, McGill University CATC, the Projet d’Accompagnement d’Haïti dans la Société de l’Information of the United Nations Development Program, MINUSTAH, Le Ministère a la Condition Féminine et aux Droits de la Femme, and local Internet service providers have actively contributed to the success of the academy. Furthermore, public and private institutions in Haiti have supported the academy through job placement opportunities and by promoting the Networking Academy to their employees.
These initiatives have been so successful that 85 percent of students who completed Networking Academy training at the University of Haiti received jobs in the ICT sector within four months of graduating. This phenomenal success can be attributed to the efforts of Max Larson Henry, the academy staff and students, and all partners involved.