The Children Heritage Foundation, Auburn University partner on Digital Literacy Program with Haitian schools
The Children Heritage Foundation (tCHF), a non-profit organization focusing on improving access to education in Haiti, and two Auburn University departments are partnering on an innovative technology educational program for elementary school children in the Caribbean country. The technological components of the program were developed in Auburn’s Department of Computer Science; the initiative is being sponsored by the Office of K-12 Outreach in the Division of University Outreach.
According to tCHF founders, Jose and Bernadette Pierre, increasing access to education is the key to enhancing the lives of young people in Haiti, which has one of the region’s highest rates of illiteracy and absolute poverty. Five years after the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti, more than a half million children are out of school, or attend schools that lack primary technology or certified teachers.
“It is an awesome opportunity to partner with Auburn University to make this vision a reality for the children in Haiti. The collaboration will advance our elementary students capabilities and will ultimately contribute in a positive way to the entire community,” said Jose Pierre. “We are especially thankful for the tremendous support we have received from Drs. Daniela Marghitu and Stacey Nickson. Their dedication is a testimony to Auburn University’s commitment to the delivery of educational programs on the local campus and beyond” noted Pierre.
The Digital Literacy Program is designed to strengthen school children’s educational achievement through curriculum and lab experiences designed to help students become technologically literate by the end of the eighth grade. The program also assists teachers in applying technology, educational data and research to enhance their classroom application. Several programs will be available to the children of Haiti, including a Computer Literacy Academy, and a Robotics and Game Development initiative. These programs are structured to provide children with advanced computer concepts, familiarity with the internet and common software applications, as well as hands-on computer programming, robotics and game development and design applications.
Dr. Daniela Marghitu, professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn, has been instrumental in the development of the approach for the curriculum for the program and will oversee its application.
"Why do we believe so strongly in computers when, for the vast majority of society, computer access is not a reality? Many communities throughout the world lack adequate technological knowledge and equipment,” noted Marghitu. “To combat this, Auburn University will give the Haiti community access to the future.” Added Marghitu, “Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. Auburn University will be using this ‘powerful weapon’ to make a difference in the life of young people from Haiti.”
The curriculum is designed to appeal to youngsters’ love of playing games. Modules stress creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as more technical applications such as programming. Graduate mentors will be recruited to coordinate the program with Haitian counterparts in elementary schools. Implementation of the program is being sponsored at Auburn University through the Office of K-12 Outreach, headed by Dr. Stacey Nickson.
“Promoting international engagement in K-12 education is fundamental to the goals of University Outreach as evidenced by the work of our Center for Global Development,” said Nickson. “The Office of K-12 Outreach is pleased to partner with the Children Heritage Foundation as part of our greater strategy to engage with international education initiatives.”
Primary information contact: Dr. Stacey Nickson, Director K-12 Outreach, 334-844-7460, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: June 10, 2015