Updated 7:07 p.m. PST.

This week’s anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti is a somber reminder of the enormous task ahead.  With over one million still homeless, a cholera epidemic, and much of the country still reduced to rubble, the dream of “building back better” seems distant.  And yet, as I blogged this past October, helping Haiti build a strong education infrastructure is one of the most promising areas where technology can help and give people hope for a brighter and more prosperous future. 

Ninety percent of the schools in Haiti were destroyed in the earthquake, including L'Ecole Supérieure d'Infotronique d'Haïti (ESIH), Haiti’s leading technical school…it is one of the first schools to be rebuilt and is a great example of progress.  ESIH is on a path to grow to 2,000+ students during the next five years, and the school views the capacity improvements realized through the cloud as a vehicle to help expedite growth. They are deploying Microsoft Live@edu (www.liveatedu.com) and Windows MultiPoint Server as a big part of the technology solution. By using Live@edu and MultiPoint Server, ESIH now has a credible online identity, a robust student information management system, 25 GB of personal storage per student, as well as a brand new computer lab that provides a gateway to the cloud. The ESIH Live@Edu website is live and has been customized by ESIH into French.

Even before the earthquake, the school struggled to manage communications with students and faculty.  Meanwhile, the vast majority of students used alternative email sources…if they had access to a PC at all…which offered them no connection or online identity with their academic institution.  As with many institutions in Haiti, ESIH sees student information management systems as a top priority after infrastructure enablement.  On January 17, Live@Edu will be deployed to the entire 700 ESIH population of students, faculty and administrative staff. Additionally, MultiPoint Server, which allows multiple students to simultaneously share one computer, is not only providing more students access, but it is also helping schools save on power consumption because they don’t have to run so many computers. By comparison with the US, energy costs are 14X higher in Haiti…so this is a tremendous added benefit.

Prior to the deadly earthquake, only about half of the school-age children were enrolled in school and only half of Haitians over the age of 15 could read… a key contributor to the extreme poverty in Haiti.  As we work together with the community to help rebuild Haiti’s schools, we have an opportunity to give students new learning tools and IT skills they never had access to before.  The video below shows how IT skills enablement is critical for Haiti to achieve 21st-century education and how technology is opening doors and providing new opportunities for schools and students. For more on how Microsoft and our partners are helping Haiti rebuild, check out the stories here.

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