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Louisiana / Haiti Mission to Haiti


The Louisiana-Haiti mission to Haiti is the follow up of the Haiti-Louisiana mission to Louisiana on July 22 – 25, 2002 of a delegation of Haitian officials and Haitian Americans. Both missions are the initiative of the Haitian Resource Development Foundation (HRDF).

Thursday, September 12, 2002

The Louisiana-Haiti delegation arrives at Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The delegation consisted of a team from the Southern University System: Dr Leon R. Tarver II, President Southern University System, Mrs. Dianne Craig, Executive Associate to the President, Dr. Walter Wiles, International Program Director, Mr. Winston Riddick, Professor of Law, Dr. Patrick Carrierre, Chairman and Massie and Professor of Civil Engineering, and Mr. Huey K. Lawson, Director of Office of Technology and Network Services and a team from the Haitian Resource Development Foundation (HRDF): Mr. Heberne Edmond, French teacher in Louisiana and Dr. Aldy Castor, President, HRDF.

Mr. Paul Duret, the Minister of Planning and External Cooperation, received the delegation at the Salon Diplomatique and later hosted a dinner in their honor at the Ollofson Hotel in Port-au-Prince.

Friday, September 13, 2002

O8.30 a.m. Meeting at the Ministère de l’Education Nationale, à la Jeunesse et aux Sports

Goal: Introduction of a conceptual framework for the Southern–Caribbean Virtual University

The Louisiana-Haiti Delegation met with Madame Mirtho Celestin Saurel, Minister of National Education. Also present were Mr. Paul Duret, Minister of Planning and External Cooperation, Jacques Alexis, President, Fondation Education et Société (FES), Yves Robert Jean, General Director for the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation and Mr. Lionel Désir, Chief of Staff for the Ministry of Planning and Extern Cooperation.

Dr. Tarver first introduced Southern University, which open its doors in 1880 in New Orleans, Louisiana, with twelve students, five faculties, and a budget totaling $ 10,000, in 1914. The University was relocated to Louisiana capital city-Baton Rouge. The University later expanded to other cities in the state, establishing Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA), and a cooperative extension livestock and horse facility in Baker.

In 1974, the Southern University and A&M College System was created by the state legislature under the management of the Southern University Board of Supervisors. From its humble beginnings, Southern University has become the only Historically Black University System in America. Its annual operating budget is more than $ 160 million, and the combined physical plant, valued at approximately $ 260 million, includes 130 buildings. The institution of the Southern University System offers 152 degree programs ranging from certificates to doctorates, serving nearly 16,000 students who represent 41 states and 57 nations. Faculty and staff number more than 2,400.

Dr. Tarver explained the main purpose of Southern University delegation to Haiti: the establishment of a Caribbean Virtual University with Haiti as the Hub. This Virtual University when it is interconnected with universities on the African continent and the 118 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the United States will enable the Africans and the African Diaspora to frog leap 20 to 30 years into the 21st century.

As an experimental model, Dr Tarver stated that Haiti could pattern the model of the Khula Project in South Africa. The Eastern Cape province of South Africa was chosen for the site of the Khula Project because it is the birthplace of Mr. Nelson Mandela and was the hardest hit during the days of apartheid. Khula is means Growth in Mr. Mandela’s language.

The Khula Project is a joint partnership between Southern University of Louisiana, Rutgers University of New Jersey, Lucent Technology of South Africa and the Government of South Africa. The project began four years ago as a result of a Social Responsibility Clause that the government requires as a participation of the large foreign companies doing business in South Africa to contribute to and create program that will benefit the people of South Africa.

The conceptualization of the project took form of designating three universities carefully chosen: Port Elizabeth University, a traditional Afrikaner university, Rhodes University, a traditional white university, and Fort Hare University, a traditional African university. Each university provided the laboratory site and support for the project. Lucent Technology on winning the contract to do business in South Africa provided $1.2 million. Rutgers and Southern University provided the coordination and faculty support.

The objective of the program is to train high school teachers, never exposed to computers, to use computers to enhance teaching and training in the classroom and to accelerate the learning process through the use of sophisticated software and programs designed for that purpose. After thirty days, over night, these teachers become literally experts, and go back to their teaching environment. Southern faculty members would set up web pages for each of the students over a sis month period of time. At the end of six months, the faculty will travel to South Africa for a two-week training period to train the teachers to teach other how to use this new technology.

Minister Celestin Saurel requires about the possible obligations of the Government of Haiti in this endeavor. Dr. Tarver responded the role of the Haitian Government would be to:

  • Endorse the project should the Haitian Government find it worthwhile and feasible
  • Facilitate the processing of all the necessary permits and paperwork
  • Allow the Haitian technical team to proceed with the implementation of this project

Mr. Heberne Edmond, a Haitian French teacher in Louisiana, explained that the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) was created in 1968 by the Louisiana state legislature to “do any and all things necessary to accomplish the development, utilization, and preservation of the French language as found in Louisiana for the cultural, economic and touristic benefit of the state.” According to the 1990 census, approximately 250,000 Louisianans responded that French was the principal language spoken in their homes.

Since its inception in 1968, CODOFIL has worked very closely with the State Department of Education to promote the study of French in Louisiana’s elementary and secondary schools. With the demand for teachers of French exceeding the current availability of qualified teachers, Louisiana has had to depend on foreign governments for assistance.

During the 2001-2002 school year, 210 French, Belgian, Canadian, Haitian and African teaching professionals have been teaching the French language in Louisiana’s schools. Five Haitians teachers are now teaching French in Louisiana since the academic year 2000, for a three year period, and they are offered the opportunity to cost-free enroll free of cost at any state university in Louisiana for their master or doctorate.

The Haitian Resource Development Foundation initiated this program of cooperation between the State of Haiti and the CODOFIL during President Rene Préval visit to Louisiana in 1999, and an accord was signed in 2000 in Monkton, Canada during the Francophony summit, between le Ministere de l’Education Nationale d’Haiti and the CODOFIL. Since then, no follow-up has been performed.

Minister Celestin Saurel promised to look into this matter to revive this cooperation as soon as possible.

As Minister Celestin Saurel complimented Dr. Aldy Castor for the developmental project that the Haitian Resource Development Foundation was performing in the Region of Aquin, Dr Castor elaborated on one of their project that, according to him, was going to positively impact the teaching of sciences at secondary education level in Haiti: The Manufacturing of didactic materials in Aquin, Haiti.

Dr. Castor went on to explain that, in the majority of the cases, the schools in Haiti do not possess the didactic materials to illustrate the theoretical classes. This inadequacy hampers learning by the fact that the knowledge of the students is based strictly on memorization without truly comprehending the entire subject. Moreover, in Haiti, the materials used by a few students are very expensive and not well adapted to their environment (incompatibility or lack of electric current, books in different languages, incompatible repair parts….) and repair parts are more expensive and come from foreign countries.

The correction of such a dilemma was to create a workshop to locally manufacture the didactic materials and thus assure their continuity. In order for this endeavor to be a success, all scholastic institutions would pull together and create a curriculum for laboratories, practical work and demonstrative illustrations for the theoretical classes. The teaching materials are being fabricated locally in Aquin, is adaptable to Haiti and will reflect the price structure of the country. Repair and maintenance of equipment will be handled locally at a much cheaper price. This will increase the country’s self-reliance.

Dr. Castor explained to Minister Saurel that the workshop in Aquin is educating young Haitian technicians to manipulate modern machines, and at the same time teaching them to manufacture didactic materials in mechanics and electricity. The first prototypes were demonstrated in this building to Mr. Gouin, the General Director of the Ministere de l’Education Nationale on August 29, 2002.

Dr Castor asked Minister Celestin-Saurel for the support of the Haitian Government of such a program not only to harmonize this new concept and validate it, but also to take in consideration these local efforts, this Haiti-Diaspora cooperation and transfer of technology, tending to vulgarize these didactic materials to improve the quality of education in Haiti. 11:00 a.m. Meeting with the IFES (International Foundation For Electoral Systems) at their office in Pétion-Ville.

Goal: Exploration of possible cooperation initiative with IFES aiming at enhancing the legal education in Haiti within its judiciary reform.

Some members of the Louisiana-Haiti delegation, Dr. Walter Wiles, Mr. Winston Riddick, Mr. Heberne Edmond, and Dr. Aldy Castor met with the IFES staff: Mr. Almami Cyllah, Director IFES Haiti, Mr. Marc Antoine J. Noel, Agr. Senior Advisor on justice, Mrs.Guilaine Victor Malebranche, Senior Advisor on private sector, Mr. Bernard H. Gousse, PhD, Senior Advisor Legal Working Group, Mr. Jacques Miguel Sanon, Attorney, Civil Society Specialist, Lesley Richard, Program Officer IFES Washington D.C., Jean Jacques Y. Descartes, Program Coordinator, François Jean Civil Society Specialist.

Mr. Almami Cyllah, IFES program Director, stated that IFES, an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization provides professional advice and technical assistance in promoting democracy and serves as an information clearinghouse on democratic development. IFES is dedicated to the success of democracy worldwide and the prospect that each person in every corner of the world is entitled to have a free and informed say in how he or she is governed. IFES recognized that democratic governance is an evolving and dynamic process, created by and meeting the needs of the people it serves.

Professor Riddick recount that the Southern University Law Center (SULC) was opened in Baton Rouge in 1947, when an African-American who applied to go to law school to a predominantly white law school, was denied admission. The white establishment, eager to find a solution, creates an all black law school. Fifty-five year later, Southern University Law Center is predominantly female with 55% African-Americans, 45% whites, and its faculty is similarly diverse. Southern University understands the problems of country like Haiti because most of its leaders grew out of the Civil Right Movement in the United States.

Professor Riddick stated in early years when he and Dr. Tarver were doing voter registration drive to register African Americans in Louisiana, they met the kind of problems that any emerging democracy like Haiti is experiencing: an establishment and institutions that fear change because they feel they cannot control it. Yet, they accepted the change once the change brought inclusion of those interested parties, such as in Louisiana.

So he mentioned that as IFES has a magnificent opportunity on strengthening democracy in Haiti not by passage of law or development of constitution but by the most difficult implementation of a participatory democracy in which the market place of ideas dictate the acceptance of a governmental action and restraint on government. As IFES had the opportunity to study and be a part in the development of grass root democracy in the Haitian population, it may be a role model .if it can tie its effort to the use of modern technology, as Southern University has done. For as Haiti get wire with the internet, computers, cell phones and communicates ideas, believes and common interest, the nature of its society, of its economy, and of its role of government is going to change. The Internet and modern technology, for example, will replace the street demonstrations for a change for justice, economic opportunity, and on acceptance of cultural, racial and other proscriptions that society demands.

Dr Wiles briefly discussed Southern University’s past experiences in democratic governance in Zambia and Nigeria and expressed the willingness of the University to partner with IFES and its Haitian partners in promoting democracy in Haiti.

01:00 p.m. Meeting with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials at the USAID office in Port-au-Prince

Goal: identification of funding sources for the Haiti Virtual University

The Louisiana-Haiti delegation met with Mr. David R. Adams, USAID Director, and Mrs. Pamela
Callen, USAID Deputy Director.

After being welcomed by Mr. Adams, USAID Director, Dr. Tarver explained to the USAID
representatives in Haiti that the purpose of the Louisiana delegation visit is to establish a
Virtual University in Haiti based on the Khula project concept already in application in South Africa.
Moreover, Southern University is currently in a three-year arrangement with Vista University of
South Africa, which is the third largest university system in the country, to establish new educational
and new degree program, and to provide training opportunities for their faculty and students in the
United States. This project is incidentally funded by USAID.

Mr. Adams expressed a lot of interest in this long distance learning project and found that it was a
Timely proposition. He stated that, for the past 3 years, the amount of US funds for Haiti has been
reduced. He mentioned that it would also be interesting to talk to the IBD (Inter-American Bank
of Development) in view that they administrate a major educational loan program for Haiti.

Professor Riddick discussed with Mr. Adams IFES with the civilian society to promote judicial
reform in Haiti. Mr. Adams was most complimentary of the role of IFES is playing in Haiti. He
recommended that Southern University has to figure out with the people of IFES if on someway
it can be helpful. The pattern that Southern University developed in South Africa using the Internet
and teleconferencing with training program for executives could be use for a lot of variety of
technique training, exchanges of ideas and research.

02:30 p.m. Meeting with Law school dean and professors of Haiti State University at the Law School in Port-au-Prince

Some members of the Louisiana-Haiti delegation, Dr Leon R. Tarver II, Professor Winston Riddick, Dr. Aldy Castor, attorney and French teacher Héberne Edmond, Executive Associate Dianne Craig met with Mr.Gelin Collot, Dean of the Law School, Patrick Pierre-Louis Professor of Constitutional law, Monferriier Dorval, Professor of constitutional law, Mr. Jacquenet Oxilus, Professor of Law, and Mr. Dumas Benjamin, Dean of Business Administration.

Mr. Gélin Collot, Dean of the Law School of Haiti State University extended his greetings to the
Louisiana-Haiti delegation. After introducing to the guesses the capabilities of the Law School, he cordially invited then to join the Law School along with the French Section of the Louisiana State Bar Association, Le Centre International de Lafayette and the Haitian Resource Development Foundation in a collaborative effort to host a legal conference at the Law School of University of Miami in Miami on December 7th, 2002.The conference theme will be: Enhancing Haiti’s Legal Educational System Within The Course Of Its Judicial Reform.

Dr. Tarver mentioned that Southern University would be able to help Haiti enhancement of its legal
educational system within its judicial reform. Several faculty at Southern University Law Center and
The Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy that are specialized in management public organization
.have been at Southern Judicial College training judges in Louisiana, and several have written judicial
manuals that are used. Southern University also has connection with the American Bar Association
that sent attorneys to Eastern Europe States. Southern could encourage them to expend that program
of volunteers to Haiti.

Professor Riddick mentioned that in private law, Haiti has the same problem that Louisiana had in the past when Louisiana had the only pure Civil Law System in the 50 states of the United States. It makes it difficult for the other 49 states to do commerce with Louisiana because its laws on tort, trust, corporations, negotiable instruments, and contracts were different. Louisiana had to evolve from a pure civilian tradition to a mixed jurisdiction. Today, Louisiana had neither common law nor civil law, but it had, during a continuous evolution taken the best of both systems.

03:30 p.m. Meeting with deans and professors of State and Private Universities of Haiti at the medical school of the State University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince.

Goal: Introduction of a conceptual framework for the Southern–Caribbean Virtual University

The Louisiana-Haiti delegation met with: Mr. Jean-Vernet Henry, Dean of School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Mr.Gélin Collot, Dean of Law School and Economic Sciences of Port–au-Prince, Mr. Jacques Edouard Alexis, President Fondation Education et Société, Mr. Emmanuel Lesly Dejean, Council of Direction Member of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Mrs. Yolaine H. Lherisson, School of Sciences Academic Affairs, State University, Mr. Dominique Boisson, School of Sciences Academic Affairs Director, State University, Dr. Mario Alvarez , Dean of Medical and Pharmacy School, Dr. Marie Evelyne Moise, Medical School Academic Affairs Director, Mr. Narcisse Fièvre, Quisqueya University Dean of School of Economics and Administration, Mrs. Marie Gisèle P.A. Pierre, Quisqueya University, Mr. Pierre Paquiot, Haiti State University President.

The Louisiana delegation received welcome remarks from Mr. Pierre Paquiot, Haiti State University
President, from. Dr. Mario Alvarez, Dean of Medical and Pharmacy School, from Dr. Marie Evelyne
Moise, Medical School Academic Affairs Director, from Mr.Gélin Collot, Dean of Law School and
Economic Sciences of Port–au-Prince, and from Mr. Jacques Edouard Alexis, President Fondation
Education et Société.

Then, Dr Tarver introduced Southern University, the Khula Project and the conceptual framework of
the Southern-Caribbean Virtual University.

The purpose of the virtual University is to bridge the digital divide and the knowledge gap
dramatically increasing access to global educational programs through the Caribbean. This will be
achieved through the integration of modern information and communication technologies, which will
allow for cost effectiveness and efficient delivery of educational programs throughout the Caribbean.
The formation of this partnership is the principle vehicle to drive the Virtual University.

Haiti and Southern University would have to identify some private companies doing business in Haiti that whish to advance the cause of education in Haiti to provide the funding sources necessary to promote this project. The question would be: what institution would we use for training site, considering that Haiti has both public and private universities with campuses in different locations?. Could the site be located in different regions of the country? What would be the educational training of the teachers? If the average school kid in Haiti will only go to 6 or 7-grade education, would we use this project to train upper elementary level teachers year 4 to 6 in the 12 year Haitian curriculum cycle?

The logic in the South Africa project was designed for high school students. So, on that regard, one can have an elementary school project, a middle school project, and a high school project that would depend on the background of the teachers to be trained, and the kind of material used in the classroom.

Dr Tarver also went to mention that the trend around the world is that most national government began to develop master plan for the education for their young people over a long period of time. There is a prediction that the United States will loose perhaps as many as 300,000 jobs over the next decades because of America’s inattention of developing computer technology skills at the lowest level of its educational system. They will loose these jobs primarily to Pacific Rim Countries such as Korea and Malaysia, because in their educational system they train their students as by the time they reach high school to literally become expert in the use of the personal computer and technology.

Saturday September 14, 2002

09:00 a.m. Visit to School of Sciences of the State University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince

Dr. Patrick Carriere, Mr Huey Lawson, and Dr. Walter Wiles visited with the Board of Director of the Engineering School, Faculté des Sciences, composed of Mr. Dominique Boisson and Ms. Marie Yolaine H Lherisson. The Board of Directors gave an overview of their engineering program and requested some assistance with respect to their curriculum and their computing facilities. They have also requested some help to develop a website for the school. We have promised them some help in this area.

10:00 a.m. Visit at Quisqueya University in Port-au-Prince

Dr. Patrick Carriere, Mr Huey Lawson, and Dr. Walter Wiles visited with the Administration of the the University of Quisqueya, composed of Mr. Paul Saint-Hilaire, Chancellor and his team. They gave us an overview of their different programs and requested to establish partnership through Memorandum of Understanding with Southern University System with respect to the Virtual University and other projects. They have suggested setting up a committee at University of Quisqueya and at Southern University to work on this endeavor. Dr. Wiles gave an overview of the programs at Southern University System and the concept of the Caribbean Virtual University. Chancellor Saint-Hilaire gave us a tour of the Campus.

11:00 a.m. Meeting with M. Leslie Voltaire, Minister of Haitians Living Abroad at the Villa Creole hotel in Pétion-Ville.

Minister Voltaire met with Dr Leon R. Tarver II, Mr. Winston Riddick, and Dr. Aldy Castor

After the usual greeting, Minister Voltaire went on to explain how Haiti and Louisiana can capitalize on the forthcoming Bicentennial Commemoration of the Louisiana Purchase in 2003, the commemoration of the Bicentennial of Toussaint Louverture death in 2003, and the bicentennial Commemoration of Haiti’s Independence in 2004. He also mentions that. Mr. Nelson Mandela was invited to come to Haiti in 2004.

Dr. Tarver replied that there is no doubt that because of the magnanimity of Mr. Mandela’s image in the world today, his visit to Haiti will refocus the international spot light on this island nation at this crucial crossroad in its history. This could give Haiti on opportunity to highlight the attributes that the society offers and to profile the needs that the Haitians Institutions and the Haitians to restore Haitian Society to a level as the people of Haiti so desire.

Dr. Tarver went on explaining that Nelson Mandela was instrumental in lending his support to the concept to foster the Southern University Virtual University in South Africa. Because of the contribution that Southern University makes in the educational environment of South Africa, Mr. Mandela allows Southern to use his name in renaming its School of Public Policy for him, which is now the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. In fact, Mr. Nelson Mandela came to Southern University in the year 2000 as Southern honored him in a ceremony renaming the School. Southern also set up the Nelson Mandela Fellowship and the Nelson Mandela Scholarship originally designed for bright South African students to come to the United States to study for one year. Now Southern is redefining both scholarship and fellowship for students around the world, including Haiti, to be able to come both at the undergraduate level and at the graduate level. That would be worked out with the Haitian Working Group.

Dr. Tarver also mentioned that, in July next year; Southern University is going to Mozambique to conduct its fourth international conference on Public Administration and Management. These conferences which Southern University had cosponsored, since its beginning in South Africa, has been held in Ghana, and in Ethiopia in 2001. The idea also evolved that it would be very interesting if similar conference would be held in the Caribbean with Haiti serving as host in the year 2005. The idea of the conference is to bring together Black public managers around the United States, Africa and the Caribbean to focus on issues facing the African continent and the American region and to unveil to the outside world whatever expertise and skill we have to offer to help professor, universities and governments to develop their resources.

Dr. Castor asked about the possibility for the Southern marching band to come to Haiti in 2004 for the commemoration of the independence of Haiti. Dr Tarver replied that the Southern University marching band, truly one of America great treasure, a well travel band, had played at presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., in ceremonies in Brazil, Russia etc…It will really quite an honor to invite the Southern marching band to participate in the 2004 celebration in Haiti.

Dr. Tarver added that should be mindful of the fact that there would not have been any Louisiana Purchase without Haiti. It was because of the Haitian people defeating of the Napoleon army that forces Napoleon to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States. He said he is also aware of the large Haitian community residing in New Orleans.

Dr. Tarver’s is proud of his Haitian heritage. His great grandfather left Jacmel, Haiti to New Orleans in 1840. He is the first of his family to come back and visit his ancestral land.

07:00 p.m. Official Dinner at La Plantation in Pétion-Ville

Madame Mhirtho Celestin Saurel, Minister of Education and Mr. Paul Duret hosted the official dinner. In a short speech, Madame Celestin Saurel said that the president of Haiti, Mr. Jean Bertrand Aristide sent his best wishes to the Louisiana-Haiti delegation for their mission in Haiti and thank their effort and cooperation to develop technical capabilities of Haiti that will contribute to the enhancement of work opportunities, and consequently to economic growth of the nation.

It was also agreed that Southern University and the Haitian Government will shortly signed a Memorandum Of Understanding for the establishment of a Technical Working Group to facilitate the commencement of the technical activities to make the program operational.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

02:30 p.m. Depart for New Orleans.

Mr. Paul Duret, Minister of Planning and external cooperation received the Louisiana Haiti delegation at the airport Salon diplomatique and facilitated all the usual transactions and said Bon Voyage.

Aldy Castor MD
President, HRDF


The Haitian Resource Development Foundation prioritizes programs that enable and empower various Haitian locales to further personal and collective independence. Engaging in a range of programs over 20 years, the HRDF continues a commitment to providing measurable results for program beneficiaries and program benefactors. Working with multiple international partners from North America and Europe, the HRDF is committed to fundamental improvements in Haitian villages to ensure greater economic vitality in the near future.