Supporting innovative low-cost education in a refugee camp
Around the world, refugees often have few opportunities to enroll in tertiary education. The Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda has been taking in refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for two decades. Educational opportunities for the camp’s residents have been very limited. Kepler is a non-profit university program that combines a blended learning approach using MOOCs (massive online open courseware) with in-class instruction and support. The Kepler program was originally launched in Kigali, where research by IDinsight showed that Kepler Kigali students outperformed their peers at traditional Rwandan universities on critical thinking, technology proficiency, English, and cognitive skills.
In August 2015, Kepler launched a university program in Kiziba Refugee Camp. The initial class included 25 students. The Kepler Kiziba program was based on the Kepler Kigali model but had been altered to accommodate a different local context. Kepler was interested in evaluating and improving this new version of the program.
From March to April 2016, IDinsight conducted a qualitative exploration of 1) gender dynamics and curriculum in the Kepler Kiziba program, and 2) employment prospects for Kepler Kiziba students. The objective was to support Kepler in building an inclusive, appropriate model for Kepler Kiziba. IDinsight interviewed stakeholders expected to have differing perspectives on the experience of applying to and participating in Kepler Kiziba.
IDinsight’s qualitative study generated various important sights. For example, all Kepler Kiziba students were found to prefer coeducational classrooms, but it turned out that additional steps could be taken to further boost female students’ class room participation. Based on the feedback received from Kepler Kiziba students, Kepler appeared to have appropriately adapted the Kigali curriculum to the Kiziba context. Nevertheless, Kepler Koziba students expressed a desire for greater parity with their Kepler Kigali counterparts (particularly in terms of living stipends).
IDinsight’s findings have been used to help Kepler refine the design of the Kiziba program.