Some Congolese refugees in Rwanda have a second chance at education. The students are studying for a US-accredited university degree.
Since 2015, Rwandan charity, Kepler has been offering refugees in Kiziba camp the chance to take online degree courses from the Southern New Hampshire University in the United States.
Oscar is among the beneficiaries. He lives in Kiziba camp in western Rwanda with more than 17,000 mainly Congolese refugees. Many have fled the instability and ethnic persecution in eastern DRC.
“Here in this camp, students were finishing their secondary studies but once you get the high grade you didn’t get access to high education. I think Kepler was one of the solution to help young refugees to have access to university studies and I think now Kepler is bringing hope to young generation of this camp”, Oscar said.
With the high cost of tuition a typical University education in Rwanda remains out of reach for refugees.
The Kiziba refugee camp is a three hour drive from the capital Kigali where the main universities are situated.
In a few years Oscar will obtain a university degree and that’s something his mother is very proud of.
“I’m really happy for my child that he could go to university. It’s a chance knowing what we’ve been through.”
Access to higher education is an important issue for refugees.
A degree makes them independent of international aid and presents an opportunity to better integrate into society especially in cases where camps like Kiziba created in the late 1990s, is the only home the refugees know.
There are currently 74,000 Congolese refugees living in five camps in Rwanda.