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Refugee College Guidance Counselors Initiative

To increase refugee access to tertiary education and employment opportunities aiming that they are sustainable in their countries of asylum.

Photo of Ella Ininahazwe
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

This video will help you to understand our work: And for more information on our work visit our twitter account : @CollegeRefugee

Geography of focus (500 characters)

We work in East Africa : Rwanda ( Operate in 5 refugee camps and urban sites) Both Host communities and refugees are supported. Kenya ( we operate in Kakuma refugee camp). All over the world only 1% of refugees can access tertiary education. The East African region has been in a tense situation of wars, famine hence displacement. Rwanda has more than 170000 refugees from DRC, Burundi. While Kenya has millions of refugees from Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, DRC, Uganda, Sudan etc..

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Our idea builds bridges between the community on the move between neighbours towards the shared development because we support refugees to get the skills and capacity they need to contribute to their host community . We build educated refugees and immigrants with competencies necessary to create their own businesses or qualify for employment opportunities. This facilitates them to pay taxes and they are more sustainable.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Involving both refugee students and the host community in our initiative has been impactful for both parties. We saw the host communities embracing, welcoming, and supporting displaced people. Education is playing a big role in connecting host communities with displaced people. Refugees feel included when they are given a chance to share opportunities with host communities. Empowering women to continue their studies is developing families’ welfare, and building a community where women are allowed to be part of the decision making. Supporting displaced people to pursue their education decreases the rate of drug abuse. Thus, it helps them to follow and achieve their dreams and life goals. Education gives them a sense and a meaning of life as well as a key to success. On the top, we believe that educated young refugees will be the engines of peace in their home countries. Employing interns from displaced and host communities build a space for growth, and inclusion.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Refugee communities are our communities of focus. By implementing our idea, we will change the following things in the refugee communities: By supporting refugees to access quality education, their community will change by gaining young leaders who will be able to lead their communities toward development. As the refugee community will get rational people, they will not lose hope for the future and self organisation. Refugees have employment issues where they do not have same access to employment as other citizens. We give refugees guidance and skills they need to be competent them competent and meeting the standards and expectations of employers. This gives refugees access to employment and entrepreneurship. This results in building a community of refugees that is financially independent and sustainable. Education gives peace, security and harmony in working with host communities....

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Our main goal of the Refugee College Guidance Counselor is to support refugee students to access higher education, to empower students who are already in programs to academically excel and to provide career guidance. Ella Ininahazwe and Sadiki Bamperineza are refugee graduates. Sadiki is a Congolese refugee who has graduated from Kepler Kiziba campus in 2018. He has lived more than 22 years in the refugee camp where he has learned about the challenges of his own community before joining the field of supporting other refugees to access higher education. Ella is a Burundian refugee who has graduated from Kepler Kigali Campus. She is using her experience to support Iteme program and women to access higher education. Both Sadiki and Ella have devoted their time in supporting refugee’s access to higher education since they believe that education is the master key to changing refugees’ lives.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The East African region has been in a tense situation of wars, famine hence displacement. Rwanda has more than 170000 refugees from DRC, Burundi. While Kenya has millions of refugees from Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, DRC, Uganda, Sudan etc... these refugees communities do not have hope that they will go back to their home countries. Therefore, they do not have a clear projection of the future. When they are in the countries of asylum, they struggle with accessing education. Indeed, there is a tremendous issue of ignorance, gender imbalance connected to tradition and cultural beliefs and the lack of motivation due to the low access to higher education opportunities. When you look at these communities' population structure, you find that there is a high number of women and young generations. In Camps refugees do not have access to information about available opportunities and how they can access and secure those opportunities.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Our idea increases the community potential and access to the resources and materials which help them to be successful. We support refugee students in Kakuma refugee camp. What we do there, have created a mentorship system where the support is given by refugees for refugees. We have taken 10 mentors who support high school students to learn about available opportunities, how to be successful through the application process and how to know the right program to chose due to the personal goals of the students. This has created a spirit of success and shared support in Kakuma refugee camp's education system. Alongside, in Kiziba refugee camp (Rwanda), we run Iteme/Bridge program which supports refugee students to get ready for higher education passing through a poor secondary school system in a refugee camp. Last year, we have run the program and we supported more than 300 to attend the university passing through very tough college admission process.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We are refugee graduated from Kepler/SNHU. Currently, employed as Refugee College Guidance Counselors. Rwanda: We work with Kepler Kenya: We work with the Global Education Movement / Southern New Hampshire University We are funded by the College Board

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Majority Adoption: We have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base (i.e. 50% to 83% of the target population or 50,000 to 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Refugee College Guidance Counselors Initiative in collaboration with Kepler, SNHU's Global Education Movement, and the College Board.

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Kepler is a college program that supports both host communities and displaced people in Rwanda. As a Refugee College Counselors we graduated from Kepler and decided to work with the College Board in order to serve more refugee in East Africa. After our successful pilot in Rwanda we decided to work with Kenya (Kakuma Refugee Camp) with a population of 186,692. Kakuma welcome refugee from South Sudan, Somali, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, we wanted to work with a wide diverse community.

Website URL:

WWW. / College Board

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Rwanda/ Kigali


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sevde Şengün

Hello Ella great to have your idea on the platform for the challenge. It's exciting and I really like your idea's touchpoints and your auido-visuals! As the ideas phase comes to an end within few hours, we would encourage you to again have a last look at the evaluation criteria here:
Also, it will be exciting for your to check out other ideas on the platform, provide some feedback and explore potential areas of collaboration with them!

Photo of Ella Ininahazwe

Thank you Sevde for the encouragement!

Photo of Bamperineza Sadiki

Hi Sevde,

Thank you very much for sharing the evaluation criteria. They are very helpful to us.

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