• JIS News

    The University of the West Indies (UWI) is taking steps to mitigate the reoccurrence of the level of devastation in the region, such as the one which Haiti has experienced, due to the January 12 earthquake.
    The institution intends to do so with a plan to begin offering a course in urban planning. The announcement was made today (July 6) by Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor E. Nigel Harris, during a press conference following talks with leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), at the 31st Meeting of the Conference of Heads of CARICOM, at the Rose Hall Resort, in St. James.
    Poor building codes and settlement practices have been blamed for the widespread loss of life and infrastructural damage suffered by the French-speaking nation, during and after the quake. Professor Harris noted that, against this background, it was now necessary to ensure that a systematic approach was taken going forward.
    “We are reviving a master’s degree and I hope even diploma level programme in urbanisation and settlements, and of course (there is) no need to tell you why urban planning and of course planning of settlements becomes so very important and the need not for outside people to be doing this,” the Vice Chancellor told journalists.
    He said the UWI was already involved in a reforestation project in Haiti and would be further intensifying these efforts. He noted that this is an area around which the institution could develop teaching programmes and research.
    Professor Harris also updated the media on some of the initiatives the UWI had previously announced, such as the placing of some 200 final-year Haitian students. He informed that the selection process was currently underway in Haiti for the students to begin in the first semester of the next school year.
    However, Professor Harris said the University was still ironing out issues related to the funding of the initiative.
    “When we bring the students to the University, we will waive tuition and fees, but the truth is that we are going to have to look for assistance either from governments, multilateral agencies or the private sector to support some of their living expenses and things like books, et cetera,” he explained.
    The UWI is also moving ahead with plans to revitalise the Haiti’s tertiary education sector, with a proposal to deliver distance education programmes to students in there. Professor Harris said the institution was currently in talks with its multilateral partners to find ways to establish the infrastructure for the delivery of these services, since electricity and Internet connection were affected by the earthquake.

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