Kepler’s innovative model of “blended” learning proves that the Gates Foundation’s vision for education in the developing world can become a reality

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the emerging Kepler college degree program in Rwanda share some important convictions. They believe that education is one of the most significant means of making inroads against poverty. Further, they estimate that people in the developing world are on the brink of gaining greater quality of life and greater equity with their peers in the developed world. Just as Bill Gates and Microsoft created disruptive technologies that transformed the daily lives of people around the world, Kepler aims to change the way people with comparatively few resources educate themselves and transform their societies.

Kepler is an innovative educational program that combines online study with in-class learning to help young adults in Rwanda earn the college degrees they need. Already, since its founding in 2013, Kepler is changing the lives of hundreds of young Rwandans. At a cost competitive with, or below, other options for higher education in the third world, students benefit not only from Kepler’s unique “blended learning” curriculum, but they also take advantage of employment opportunities when they graduate.

In 2015, the Gates Foundation issued its annual Gates Letter. This year’s themes include a focus on how advances in software design and implementation are contributing to leveling the educational playing field for people in Africa and other developing regions. Kepler is living proof that this strategy can work!

Kepler’s curriculum includes coursework through access to massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by major universities, and then adds a face-to-face teaching and mentoring component as students gather in the classroom to discuss what they’ve learned and to complete projects. The competency-based degrees they earn, awarded through the United States-based College of America, demonstrate their mastery of their subject at the international level.

Does the Kepler approach work? Consider a few data points to shed light on this question. 100% of students entering Kepler since its inception are on path to achieve their AA degrees in 2 years or less. More than 80% of students gain internships after their first year. In the area of Core Skills Mastery (CSM), considered a key metric to evaluate the effectiveness of an undergraduate curriculum, Kepler students have the highest completion rate of CSM out of any organization CSM works with globally.

All of these facts, and more, point to an exciting truth. The future of education is happening now — in the small country of Rwanda. Where the Kepler model is changing the paradigm for higher education in the third world.

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