College-aged Rwandan youth will now receive low cost and high quality learning thanks to Kepler, an education program offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) and competency-based degrees. Kepler launched their program from Kigali, the nation’s capital, and was established with Generation Rwanda, a scholarship program for Rwanda’s most vulnerable and gifted youth.
Kepler’s revolutionary project provides open sourced and online content from prestigious Western universities, on-site classroom instruction, and an associate degree from Southern New Hampshire University’s competency-based program, College for America. Kepler’s 10 year plan is intended to reach up to 100,000 students through a network of replicated programs in the developing world.
50 out of 2,696 students who applied were chosen to pilot the program. The program is currently free for all students and hopes to keep tuition below $1,000 after expending the anonymously donated start-up funding. The few universities in Rwanda require a tuition that runs between $1,500 and $2,000 a year – about three times the average annual income.
According to the World Bank, only 6.6% of college-aged Rwandans were enrolled in universities in 2011. Kepler’s website wrote, “progressive countries like Rwanda have achieved incredible growth by building knowledge rather than oil refineries or diamond mine. But without the institutions to train their home-grown talent, true knowledge economies remain out of reach. Kepler is specifically designed for this role: training a new generation of creators and builders for the developing world. Kepler’s pilot campus in Rwanda is built to deliver top academic and career outcomes at a price that is affordable to anyone with the talent and determination to take part.”
International audiences are optimistic, emphasizing the program’s potential to serve as an example for educators using MOOC based curriculum. Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, said their partnership with Kepler will allow the institution to “test the waters for what we think might grow, “and “the idea was to work with partners that could be part of the student’s individual learning ecosystem, and for many adults that might mean a range of community-based organizations. We see the Kepler pilot in that light, and we love their mission.”
Creative Commons Love: Graham Holliday on Flickr.com