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Kepler Tech Labs in Refugee Camps, Rwanda

Introducing Science and Engineering education laboratory in Kiziba and Mahama refugee camps

Photo of Alphonse Habyarimana
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What problem does your innovation solve?

“Refugee education is of low and uneven quality globally” (Dryen-Peterson, 2015). Sarah Dryen-Peterson explained that at least, in a refugee camp, a teach gets teaching training of no more than 10 days and assigned with 40 students to teach. As a result of this, when students get the chance to go abroad, their skills are low compared to their agemates due to lack of resources and teachers. What will practical education mean to refugee children and how will it be of use?

Explain your innovation.

Kepler Tech Lab seeks to run an innovation center to refugee students for them to become innovators and makers. Our concepts will provide students with a more cost-effective method for teaching practical science and engineering to address mismatch of practical hands-on experiences. To get all students from all walk of life, we are considering to expand our curriculum in Refugee camps to help underserved students from there who cannot otherwise get access to practical education. We will host summer camps and regular engineering workshops in refugee camps, Kiziba in Western Province of Rwanda and Mahama in Eastern Province, to help students develop skills and make prototypes for different projects which would assist to solve technical problems they face in their daily life.

Who benefits?

We are targeting to teach science and engineering concepts to students from Mahama Refugee Camp in Eastern Province of Rwanda and Kiziba Refugee Camp in Western Province. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of 9 September 2016, Mahama Refugee Camp has 50,233 refugees from Burundi and 164,561 in total when combined with refugees from Republic Democratic of Congo (DRC) who stay in this refugee camp (Kenya, n.d.) and Kiziba Refugee Camp has more than 17,000 refugees from DRC (Bryant, 2015). With the two refugee camps, we are targeting to teach science and engineering skills to middle-high school students and high school graduates.

How is your innovation unique?

The innovation is unique because the lab is encouraged by the needs of communities and provides engineering programs to address the needs. Back in March 2016, three of Kepler Tech Lab team have conducted two-week engineering workshop about energy with Refugee students from Kiziba Refugee camp in Western Province of Rwanda. We chose to provide them with engineering workshop because they use solar energy systems in order to have access to electricity. We knew if they can learn how solar cells are made they can be able to troubleshoot the ones they use instead of throwing them away once they are not working. From the very beginning, that was an assumption but it came true when they started to experiment with solar panels and learn how are made by making their own using raw materials, such as water and salt to test how they work. The week culminated with an open house for the entire Kiziba camp where the students set up stations to teach attendees all that they had learned in the workshop.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

How can we expand practical education opportunities for all youth and what would be expected results?

Kepler Tech Lab seeks to run an innovation center to refugee students for them to become innovators and makers. Our concepts will provide students with a more cost-effective method for teaching practical science and engineering to address mismatch of practical hands-on experiences and their needs.

Tell us more about you.

Alphonse Habyarimana manages and develops Kepler Tech Lab which is made up of 7 staff members: 3 full-time, 2 part-time, and 2 advisors. We'll be working together as a team to execute the idea of extending practical education in refugee camps in Rwanda. We will also be collaborating with members of the International Development Innovation Network to stay connected with social innovators around the world & Stanford FabLearn fellows to share our best practices.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

According to Dryen-Peterson, “refugee education is of low and uneven quality globally.” How can children and youth in refugee camps better be supported to be provided with practical education? Practical education opens opportunities in different ways such that learners are equipped with technology skills employers would be looking for from their employees and/or be able to build things out of their creativity which could be turned into the business ventures.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

We will implement engineering enrichment programs in Mahama Refugee Camp in Eastern Province of Rwanda made up of 50,233 refugees from Burundi and 164,561 in total when combined with refugees from Republic Democratic of Congo (DRC) who stay in this refugee camp and Kiziba Refugee Camp has more than 17,000 refugees from DRC.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

In August 2016, I joined an International Development Innovation Network which is a network that connects social innovators and designers around the world. In Sept 2016, I became a fellow at Stanford FabLearn, a fellowship program at Stanford University that connects the international community of educators, innovators, and decision makers. I am now collaborating with Kigali FabLab to have some students visiting and use their machines for designing prototypes for their projects.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Since August 2015, I have been managing and developing Kepler Tech Labs in Rwanda and teaching different engineering concepts including electronics, energy, computer programming, Creative Capacity Building, and recycling. In March 2016, I led a team of staff who taught engineering workshop (energy) to Kiziba Refugee students in Rwanda.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

Kigali, Rwanda, KG 11 Av 183

Website

http://keplertechlab.wordpress.com/

9 comments

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Photo of Audrine Colombe
Team

Hello,
I am so amazed by this idea. I have witnessed some of the tech lab works and I saw that you guys are doing a great job to help different people especially in camps through science and engineering. It is really rare to find such program in our countries.
Good Job
Keep that spirit.

Photo of Alphonse
Team

Wow, Audrine, thanks for being such great ambassador of the work we are doing! We can possibly grow the project to benefit more students, even in emergency situations where students cannot otherwise get access to practical education. Anything we can do together?

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