Our pilot university partners continue to implement innovative changes to their educational models. Of the five elements of success shared by the Transforming Higher Education Project, the Quisqueya University (UniQ) in Haiti is systematically incorporating experiential learning as the principal educational pedagogy of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (FSAE in French).
We interviewed Absalon Pierre, director of research and pedagogy of the FSAE at Quisqueya University and project facilitator at UniQ, who told us about the work of this institution that has been able to go from less than 100 students before 2011 to more than 200 today.
The FSAE is one of the oldest faculties of the university, even going back to the conception of Quisqueya. With their mission directed to being the catalyst for important changes in Haiti’s agricultural and agribusiness sector that will improve the lives of farmers and their families, the university leaders believed that it was necessary to implement measures that would keep young people interested in and excited about a career that has been generally ignored and discriminated against in Haiti.
Experiential learning has been integrated into Quisqueya University (Université Quisqueya in French) through the FSAE. In this faculty, this type of learning is mandatory in all classes and its teachers must develop study plans that integrate it effectively. For this, a syllabus was developed, and must be implemented by 100% of the professors.
The first months were a bit difficult for everyone because of the level of involvement that it implies. Students have become accustomed to a type of learning where the teacher is the one who gives everything, while in this model it’s focused on the work that they do.
For some professors, the change was very easy because they do have the sense of putting theory into practice. With them, even if we are short on resources there are many things that can be accomplished. They use everything around them to achieve their goals.
For others, we’re still lacking a lot to perform this type of activity effectively. We still have deficiencies such as farms, laboratories, materials… But usually, it’s an adaptation problem. Members of other careers like what we’re doing. They watch and copy.
Students are more involved and more practical. The professor does less work, which translate to more time to focus in supporting and guiding. Everyone is looking for the best strategy to make their learning more effective and more practical.
We’ve executed vaccination campaigns for chickens, rabbit production, agro-environmental and product exhibitions, production of rabbit food, agricultural diagnostics, production of disease-resistant seed varieties, among others.
We have built an alliance with the Ministry of Agriculture of Haiti. In addition, with a beverage production company, with a technical school in agriculture with great facilities for student and teacher internships in the center of the country called Zanmi Agrikol and other companies
We have been very respectful of national and international measures. COVID forced us to change many learning methods and to implement virtual classes, for example.
For more information on the activities of the FSAE make sure to follow their page on Facebook!