Emmaus Biblical Seminary of Haiti (EBS) has existed for seventeen years as a higher theological education training institution. As such, EBS is a relatively new school that is built on an old foundation, as the organization was founded in 1967 as the Emmaus Vocational Bible School (more details below). The shift from bi-vocational training for Haitian pastors to a theology-only, bachelor’s and master’s level degree program was the watershed moment for the transformation of the school. Through that transformation, graduates, staff, faculty, and other EBS stakeholders are united in their assessment that EBS has emerged as one of the (if not “the”) leading schools of higher theological education in Haiti.
The essential elements contributing to the transformation of the school include: (1) dramatic increase in academically and professionally credentialed school leadership (namely faculty and administration), (2) transformations at the level of Board of Directors, (2) relocating to a new campus just five miles from the former EBS campus, (3) exponential increase in learning resources (both online and in the library) and easy access to those resources, (4) a curriculum overhaul, (5) professionalizing institutional operations and academic standards, (6) a serious commitment from the Board of Directors to the financial sustainability of the school, and (7) a broadening of vision and mission of the school.
One of the more significant challenges that have come along with the substantial change has been geographically positioning ourselves in a university’s market with a new brand. As a bi-vocational school, our market was mainly secondary-ed training. The new EBS needed to be reinterpreted to existing and prospective constituents as an institution with legitimate undergraduate and graduate-level education and learning resources. Our alumni, being enthusiastic about the change, have been essential in helping us maintain a healthy enrollment. In fact, while there was a very short period of low enrollment (2008-2010), enrollment is now at a record high as former graduates who are now serving as pastors are faithful in sending prospective students to EBS as a result of their succession planning and confidence in the new life and excellent theological training at EBS. We have also gained much ground among new constituents. EBS is working hard to form and strengthen bonds with local church denominations and leaders.
These tremendous advancements represented increased enrollment and higher professional and academic standards have all unfolded against the point of reference of the desire for full-accreditation with the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association (CETA). We achieved accreditation candidacy status in 2014 and have been working zealously to thoroughly satisfy CETA’s twelve standards of accreditation with utmost excellence.
Because this self-study is the culmination of accreditation candidacy with CETA, the Steering Committee has written comprehensive responses to all twelve standards for accreditation around which this self-study is organized.*1* Each chapter details the ways in which EBS has satisfied the requirements and essential elements of each accreditation standard. Furthermore, there is a hyperlink within the manuscript for some of the evidence for responding to the accreditation standards. We have also created a virtual evidence room that contains a list of all evidence organized by chapter/standard: http://ebshaiti.org/about-2/self-study/. Note that most of the evidence therein pertains to the first seven chapters/standards of accreditation.
The process of conducting the self-study revealed some areas needing attention within the institution as a whole. Institutional Resources (Chapter 6) and Assessment and Planning (Chapter 2) required the most attention. The challenges that come with these standards is directly the result of Haiti’s very low GDP per capita ($819.90 US in 2013) (as well as the historical language struggle within the education sector). As relates to learning resources, in particular, French texts that correspond to our curriculum (Evangelical theological and biblical studies) are both hard to find and expensive (a natural result of the economic principles of supply and demand). While we do have a grant with the Langham Partnership, we still have to purchase most of our French texts from Quebec, France, Switzerland, and Africa. It’s not out of the ordinary for shipping and customs fees to be of equal value to the book itself (if not more). The high cost of resources is an added economic strain in our resource-poor environment. Thanks to an EBS donor, we received over $30,000.00 to invest in French texts for the EBS library as well as subscriptions to online databases and Logos Bible Software in French.
Related to this, accessibility to communication technology that can meet the needs of an institution or business is extremely limited. Because of supply and demand, EBS is in a position in which we have to pay, on average, $1000.00 US per month for a stable internet connection at 20mbps upload and download speeds.
Similarly, EBS has to produce its electricity because the Haitian government does not offer consistent power to our location in the rural north. Thankfully, in June 2016, we purchased and installed a solar array to minimize this cost. While the up-front cost of the project was high ($75,000.00 US), our return on investment (ROI) is five years. Once again, it was the generosity of EBS donors that allowed us to purchase and install the sustainable solution with no borrowing.
The economic disenfranchisement of Haiti not only makes learning resources hard to come by, but it also determines market prices for tuition and fees. While the cost of learning resources sores, tuition must stay within the market’s range (currently at $12 USD per credit hour), which means that we have to depend quite heavily on donors to sustain the program. At the same time, in 2010, ninety percent of the needed funds came from donors and ten percent from tuition and fees. Today that has shifted. Currently, sixty-five percent of our needed income comes from donors, and thirty-five percent comes from tuition and fees. This change is largely the result of increased enrollment, volunteer faculty, and investing in renewable energy.
Regarding assessment, Haiti’s history of being an oral culture creates a learning curve when it comes to fostering a culture of documented administration and objective evaluations. The challenge has been two-fold: (1) first, to cultivate an institutional culture of professional administrative practice, and (2) training administration, faculty, and staff to understand the utility of such a culture within the institution. Creating new administrative habits takes time, and EBS has been diligent about transforming our culture in this sense.
This reality accurately summarizes what the process of conducting the self-study has done for the EBS community in a more general sense. As a community of faith, we have come to realize that the satisfaction of fulfilling our calling as an institution does not come with the prestige of accreditation, but rather within the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day struggle for growth, improvement, academic excellent, and spiritual vitality—all of which is integral to fulfill our mission to develop Christ-like leaders for the spiritual transformation of Haiti and the world.