Learning a language is very popular in the Social Learning Centers of Haiti and busuu have been lending a hand by giving students free access to our Premium features. In doing so, we’ve become a central part of French language and second language learning programs in the area. We wanted to find out more about how the Social Learning Centers work and how online learning has revolutionised access to education in underserved communities…
Social Learning, Social Good
The main aim of Haiti’s Social Learning Centers is to increase access to post-secondary education for underserved communities and to provide low-cost access to online learning. These types of social businesses are run by volunteers who are often students themselves.
The centers have been through various iterations and stages of development. The current center was opened in the town of Léogâne in August 2017. The founders hope that their sustainable business model will be replicated in centers throughout Haiti and around the world.
“The learning centers got started while I was working with a community center near the town of Léogâne in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. I met Jean Max Demergeau, a Haitian from the local community, who was working to bring assistance to people displaced by the destruction of the earthquake. Jean Max became my business partner and we started our first center in a tent next to a displaced persons camp we had been helping. Our centers provide high speed internet access, allowing full access to online learning resources worldwide, to many who cannot afford a computer and internet connection of their own.”David Patterson, the CEO of the Social Learning Centers
Community Led Learning
The center is open to anyone in the community and student volunteers help people sign up to get started with online learning. It’s a real local effort and participants span a wide range from students in secondary school who are preparing to enter university, to university students and adults looking to improve their knowledge and learn skills that make them more employable.
The language spoken in Haiti is Haitian Creole. Students learn French in school, but often do not become fluent enough for the language to be useful in work or higher education.
So, busuu helps these students in two ways.
Firstly, it allows our students to improve their French to help them find employment or enter university. Secondly, it allows them to learn additional languages such as English and Spanish which will help to advance their work, educational and personal goals.
A Student Story
One student, Marie Danielle Beauvais, age 33, is a primary school teacher living in a small rural community about 10 km from Léogâne. Marie Danielle is using busuu to learn Spanish, and she’s found it very useful so far.
“I like it. It is easier and faster and better. For example it shows how the language is different in different countries such as Chile, Mexico, Spain and Peru.” And like most people on busuu, she’s learning Spanish for a range of reasons: “to be able to talk and, if I get the chance, to travel.”Marie Danielle Beauvais
Since opening, the current center has made great progress. Next steps include making more high-quality online learning resources available while improving and perfecting their current center so that they’ll be ready to open additional centers next year.
And busuu will be along every step of the way – helping students meet their online language learning goals and, hopefully, improving their lives.