Higher Education, Human Development and Growing Inequality in Pre- and Post-Pandemic Haiti





Higher education, Inequality, COVID-19, Human Development, Haitian Youth


For almost four decades, Haiti has been engaged in the tenuous process of democratization, exacerbated by political, economic, social, climate, and more recently the COVID-19 crises. With each crisis, efforts are made to reimagine national development and revitalize the public sphere, with limited success. Yet, largely absent from these debates is the higher education sector. We argue that the neglect of higher education since Haiti’s transition from dictatorship to democracy is a result of the nation’s failure to articulate a clear vision for the sector. In this article, we ask: How has the failure to articulate a clear purpose for the higher education sector in Haiti exacerbated the country’s systemic crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic?  In order to answer this question, we provide a sociohistorical examination of the role of power and politics in Haitian higher education beginning in its founding in the 19th century culminating at the time of the pandemic. We explore how the absence of a strategic vision for higher education institutions in Haiti and ad-hoc neoliberal policies have impacted the professoriate and students while impeding the sector’s potential contributions to society in a time characterized by systemic and uninterrupted crises including the COVID-19 pandemic.


Download data is not yet available.


Alford, K., Bunch, J. C., Pierre, A., Anglade, B., & Roberts, T. G. (2020). Employer expectations for graduates from Haiti’s agricultural universities. Advancements in Agricultural Development, 1(3): 27–41.

Altbach, P. G., Gumport, P., & Berdahl, R. (2011). American higher education in the twenty-first century: Social, political, and economic challenges (3rd ed.). The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Arthur, J., & Bohlin, K. (2005). Citizenship and higher education: The role of universities in communities and societies. Routledge Falmer.

Avocats sans Frontières Canada (ASFC). 2019. Comment répondre aux besoins des victimes de choléra en Haïti? Faisabilité d’une approche individuelle d’assistance pour les personnes les plus affectées par la maladie. ASFC.

Bernard, J. J. (1989). Higher education in Haiti, 1958-1988: An analysis of its organization, administration and contributions to national development [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of North Texas.

Bowen, W., Kurzweil, M., & Tobin, E. (2005). Equity and excellence in American higher education. University of Virginia Press.

Cela, T. (2021). Higher education reform and diaspora engagement in post-earthquake Haiti. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 3(2), 239–266 DOI: 10.1080/09620214.2021.1927381.

Cela, T., Marcelin, L. H., Fleurantin, N., & Jean Louis, S. (2022). Emergency health in the aftermath of disasters: A post-Hurricane Matthew skin outbreak in rural Haiti. Disaster Prevention and Management, 31(4), 398–410.

Cenat, J. M. (2020). The vulnerability of low-and middle-income countries facing the COVID-19 pandemic: The case of Haiti. Travel Med Infect Dis, 37, 101684. DOI: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101684

Chantler, A. (2016). The ivory tower revisited. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 37(2), 215–229.

Collins, C. (2011). Cross-border collaboration in the service of human capacity development. In R. Sakamoto, & D. Chapman, D. (Eds.), Cross-border partnerships in higher education: Strategies and Issues. (pp. 228–247). Routledge.

Collins, C. (2012) Land grant extension as a global endeavor: Connecting knowledge and international development. The Review of Higher Education, 36(1), 91–124.

DeGennaro, V., Schwartz, T., Henderson, R., & Elie, M. (2021). A cross-sectional cohort study of prevalence of antibodies to COVID-19 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti [PREPRINT] medR xiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.30.21259815

Espinoza Díaz, O. (2010). Los sistemas de aseguramiento de la calidad en la educación Superior en América Latina. Akademeia, 1(1), 7–22.

Faure, J. A., Wang, C.-W., Chen, C.-H. S., & Chan, C.C. (2022) Assessment of the functional capacity and preparedness of the Haitian healthcare system to fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic: A narrative review. Healthcare, 10(8), 1428.

Fene, F., Ríos-Blancos, M. J., Lachaud, J., Razo, C., Lamadrid-Figueroa, H., Liu, M., Michel, J., Thermidor, R., & Lozano, R. (2020). Life expectancy, death, and disability in Haiti, 1990-2017: A systemic analysis from the global burden of disease study. Rev Panam Salud Publica, 44(e136).

Gage, A. D., Leslie, H. H., Bitton, A., Jerome, J. G., Thermidor, R., Joseph, J. P., & Kruk, M. E. (2017). Assessing the quality of primary care in Haiti. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 95, 182–190, doi: 10.2471/BLT.16.179846.

Gelting, R., Bliss, K., Patrick, M., Lockhart, G., & Handzel, T. (2013). Water, sanitation and hygiene in Haiti: Past, present and future. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 89(4), 665–670, doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.13-0217.

Global Hunger Index (2022). Haiti. https://www.globalhungerindex.org/haiti.html.

Goertz, H. (2016). Integrating gender and nutrition within agricultural services: Haiti landscape analysis. USAID and INGANAES.

Grogg, P. (2013, August 28). Cuban doctors bring eyesight, healthcare to Haiti. Global Information Network. https://reliefweb.int/report/haiti/cuban-doctors-bring-eyesight-healthcare-haiti

Group de Travail sur l’Éducation et la Formation (GTEF). (2010). Pour un pacte nationale sur l’éducation en Haïti: Rapport au Président de la République. GTEF. https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ressources/haiti_pacte_national_education.pdf

Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI). (2021). Assessments of higher education’s progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals- Volume 2: For higher education institutions participating in assessments. https://sdgs.un.org/sites/default/files/2021-09/HEI%20assessment%20for%20the%20SDGs%20-%20Volume%202%20HEIs1.pdf

Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED). (2010). The challenge for higher education: A post-earthquake assessment of higher education institutions in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. http://www.inured.org/uploads/2/5/2/6/25266591/the_challenge_for_haitian_higher_education.pdf

Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED). (2017b). Republic of Haiti: Country of origin information paper. http://www.inured.org/uploads/2/5/2/6/25266591/unchr_coi_haiti_final_redacted_report_inured.pdf

Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development. (2020). Post-Earthquake Haitian migration to Latin America. http://www.inured.org/uploads/2/5/2/6/25266591/mideq_inured_2020_post-earthquake_haitian_migration_to_latin_america_v1.pdf

Jacob, S. (2020). Massification and the public financing of higher education in Haiti: Issues and challenges. International Review of Administrative Services, 86(2), 349–367. doi.org/10.1177/0020852318781457

Jarvis, D.S.L. (2014) Regulating higher education: Quality assurance and neo-liberal managerialism in higher education – A critical introduction. Policy and Society, 33(3), 155–166.

Jordana, J. (2021). Introduction: Regulatory governance of higher education in Latin America. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 40(4), 483–486.

Kirk, J. M. (2015). Healthcare without borders: Understanding Cuban medical internationalism. University of Florida Press.

Klarreich, K., & Polman, L. (2012). The NGO republic of Haiti. The Nation. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/ngo-republic-haiti/.

Lemay-Hébert, N., Marcelin, L. H., Pallage, S., & Cela, T. (2019). The internal brain drain: Foreign aid, hiring practices and international migration. Disasters, 44(4), 621–640.

Lumarque, J. (Ed.). 2020. Haïti et le Covid –19. Des outils pour comprendre et agir. Université Quiqueya.

Marcelin, L. H., & Cela, T. (2017a). After Hurricane Matthew: Resources, capacities, and pathways to recovery and reconstruction of devastated communities in Haiti. Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED). http://www.inured.org/uploads/2/5/2/6/25266591/reportonline__051117.pdf

Marginson, S. (2012). The “Public” contribution of universities in an increasingly global world. In B. Pusser, K. Kempner, S. Marginson, & I. Ordorika (Eds.). Universities and the public sphere: knowledge creation and state building in the era of globalization (pp. 7 –25). Routledge.

Ministère de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP). (2022). Situation epidemiologique de la COVID-19 a la 8 SE 2023, Haiti. https://www.mspp.gouv.ht/

Nugent, C. (2019). Why a Venezuelan oil program is fueling massive street protests in Haiti. Time. https://time.com/5609054/haiti-protests-petrocaribe/.

OECD & INURED. (2017). Interactions entre politique publiques, migration et développement en Haïti. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED).

Pamphile, L. D. (2008). Clash of cultures: America's educational strategies in occupied Haiti, 1915-1934. University Press of America.

Pierre, A. (2015). Propuestas de reestructuración curricular de dos facultades de agronomía haitianas relacionadas al desarrollo sustentable [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Chapingo Autonomous University.

Pierre, A., Calixte, M. C., Moore, K., Bunch, J. C., Koenig, R., Delva, L., & Roberts, T. G. (2018). Haitian agricultural faculty preparation for their academic roles. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education, 25(1), 1–15.

Pierre-Charles, G. (1988). Université et démocratie: L'université et les universitaires dans la lutte pour la démocratie et le changement. Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement.

Price, R., Cho, J., & Nelson, S. (2022). SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence at an urban hospital in Haiti. Cureus, 14(8), e27690 DOI: 10.7759/cureus.27690

Pusser, B., Kempner, K., Marginson, S., & Ordorika, I. (Eds.). (2012). Universities and the public sphere: Knowledge creation and state building in the era of globalization. Routledge.

Romain, J. B. (1987). Situation de l'enseignement superieur en Haiti. Impr. des Antilles.

Rouzier, V., Liautaud, B., & Deschamps, M. M. (2020). Facing the monster in Haiti. N Engl J Med; 383, e4. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2021362.

Saltmarsh, J., & Hartley, M. (2011). “To serve a larger purpose”: Engagement for democracy and the transformation of higher education. Temple University Press.

Shapiro, H. T. (2005). A larger sense of purpose: Higher education and society. Princeton University Press.

Stads, G.-J., & Beintema, N. M. (2009). Public agricultural research in Latin America and the Caribbean: Investment and capacity trends. Inter-American Development Bank.

Tagliamonte, M. S., Mavian, C., & Zainabadi, K., et al. (2022). Rapid emergence and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 gamma (p.1) variant in Haiti. Clin Infect Dis., 74, 2057–2060. https://doi.org//10.1093/cid/ciab736

Torres, C. A., & Schugurensky, D. (2002). The political economy of higher education in the era of neoliberal globalization: Latin America in comparative perspective. Higher Education, 43(4), 429–445. doi: 10.1023/A:1015292413037.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2022). Human development reports: Haiti. https://hdr.undp.org/data-center/specific-country-data#/countries/HTI.

MacGregor, K. (2022, March 12). Higher education report charts rise of the Global South. University World News. https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20220311151815827

Urzúa, R. (2002). Regional overview: Latin America and the Caribbean. Higher Education Policy, 15(3), 277–290.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (2018). Public financing of education in Haiti, 2010-2018. https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PA00TQSG.pdf.

U.S. Government (USG). (2011). Haiti: Feed the future FY 2011–2015 multi-year strategy. https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/44991296/feed-the-future-multi-year-strategyhaiti-public

World Health Organization. (2022a). Cholera-Haiti. https://www.who.int/emergencies/disease-outbreak-news/item/2022-DON427.

World Health Organization. (2022b). Coronavirus (COVID-19) dashboard. https://covid19.who.int/.

World Health Organization & UNICEF. (2014). Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water supply and sanitation Haiti: Report on the estimates on the use of water sources and sanitation facilities (1980–2012.



How to Cite

Marcelin, L. H., Cela, T. ., da Silva Fidalgo, M., & Zuraik, C. (2024). Higher Education, Human Development and Growing Inequality in Pre- and Post-Pandemic Haiti. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v16i1.5594



Special Issue: Latin America & Carribean Higher Education