Evaluation of Generation Rwanda’s Kepler Program

The Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda houses primarily Congolese refugees who fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1996. Kiziba Refugee Camp opened in 1996, after the closure of Umubano and Mudende Transit Center Camps in Rubavo, Rwanda. Kiziba is 280,000 square meters in size and hosts over 17,000 refugees; over 8,100 of these are youth under the age of 18, the majority of whom have lived in the camp since birth. In 2015 an upper secondary education program was established, however a large population of young adults remained unable to pursue university degrees and lacked access to tertiary education. Without an opportunity to further their education in Kiziba, youth lack a bridge to productive, long-term employment. Refugees in Rwanda do have the right to relocate outside of camps for work and education purposes, but without access to higher education refugees have limited opportunities to put these rights to use.

AIR, Kepler, and the University of Maastricht, are partnering to rigorously evaluate the scalability, efficiency, and effects of the Kepler program in Kiziba Refugee Camp, Rwanda. In 2013, Kepler began as a nonprofit university program designed to deliver the skills that emerging economies need. Kepler grew as an initiative of Generation Rwanda, which began in 2004 and has supported young people in Rwanda in achieving their higher education goals through scholarships for universities throughout the country. Kepler combines the best of online learning and an American competency-based degree program with in-person seminars and intensive education-to-employment support.

Using a blended approach to instruction, students are taught the skills to gain formal employment while also working toward a U.S.-accredited associate’s and/or bachelor’s degree through Kepler’s credentialing partner Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). In 2015, Kepler introduced its program in Kiziba refugee camp.

AIR is conducting a process evaluation with an iterative research design in which each activity feeds into the next cycle of research to determine the scalability of the program. We utilize action-oriented qualitative research, which will enable us to understand the question that implementers should ask to ensure success in another area, as well as the strategies they can undertake to identify partners. To achieve this goal, we will conduct key informant interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders identified in a workshop with representatives of the Kepler program in Rwanda. To assess the efficiency of the program, we will measure the costs of each program activity and identify sources of data that could be used to investigate cost-effectiveness. Finally, we will rely on administrative data from UNHCR and household-level panel data to determine the effects of the program on secondary school enrolment and attendance through an interrupted time series design. The evaluation is funded by UNICEF under the Humanitarian Education Accelerator, which aims to generate rigorous evidence to understand how to transform high-potential pilot projects into scalable education initiatives for refugees and displaced communities worldwide.  

In addition to the evaluation, AIR co-facilitates bootcamps in partnership with UNICEF, UNHCR, and DFID. During these bootcamps AIR provides monitoring & evaluation training to a wide range of policy makers and practitioners, including representatives from the Kepler program. The bootcamps contribute to the capacity of the Kepler program to credibly monitor and evaluate the performance of its program through internal monitoring and evaluation procedures.