It's been a tremendous year so far for Akilah – our 355 students are thriving on campus, 88% of graduates have secured employment, and our global organization is growing rapidly – the Akilah Group has over 60 staff members worldwide!
We're excited to share our updates and successes from the last 16 months, as well as information about how these successes are setting our organization up for some big changes moving forward. We are in the midst of refining our academic and business model to scale the program across East Africa, and by honing our delivery model to include online and offline formats, Akilah can exponentially increase the number of women we reach, reduce our costs to serve them, and become more financially sustainable.
The ripple effect our program has on our students, their families, their communities, and the East African economy is profound and would not be possible without you. Thank you for sharing in our successes thus far!
Akilah hosted a swearing-in ceremony in March 2016 for the newest members of our student government. Participation in the Student Guild gives students the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience and strengthen vital professional development skills, such as decision-making, public speaking, and problem-solving. We were especially proud to have four Burundian transfer students in the Student Guild this year.
Burundian students celebrating the swearing-in of the 2016 Student Guild.
In June 2015, Akilah was forced to close its Burundi campus due to the unstable political environment and the threats to staff and student security. 43 of our 150 Burundian students transferred to our Rwanda campus. The Burundian students receive significant support from Akilah’s leadership team, counselors, careers office, and faculty, who work to ensure that students feel comfortable and integrated on campus. Our Rwandan students support their new classmates. Each Burundian student is assigned a Rwandan student mentor as part of our Big Sister/Little Sister program. The Burundian students are adjusting to life in a new city and remain focused and committed to continuing their education.
Inside the Classroom
Akilah now offers a Chinese language class, a new initiative designed to equip students with the skills needed to respond to the influx of global investments to the East African region. The six week course is being taught by Katie Dale, a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, whose initial idea for an exchange program between Rutgers and Akilah quickly evolved into the development of a Mandarin curriculum.
At Akilah, we educate female tech leaders to shape the emerging industry in and beyond Rwanda. Our students study in our Cisco-certified networking academy to learn how to build technology solutions to local challenges, from designing online examination systems for the Rwandan police force to creating information management systems for local government office.
Faridah Umutoni, top 5 finalist at the Ms Geek competition (pictured, right).
Student Faridah Umutoni '18 was selected as one of five finalists for the 2016 Ms Geek Rwanda competition, an annual contest organized by Girls in ICT in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth & ICT to inspire female students to design solutions to societal issues through technology and innovation. Faridah proposed a mobile app and web platform, Meet the Doctor, which would allow patients in rural areas to contact and communicate with a doctor online, avoiding the long travel and wait times common in these areas.
Partnership with CISCO
Information Systems students received their internationally recognized certificates for completing Cisco courses. Akilah received the Cisco 2015 Academy Curriculum Award in recognition of our ITE curriculum and contribution to the Cisco Networking Academy program.
Monitoring & Evaluation
In 2015, Akilah established its Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Department, led by our on-campus Monitoring & Evaluation specialist. The department collects and evaluates student data, measures academic progress and tracks graduate and employment outcomes within three essential skills pathways: academic and market-relevant skills, leadership skills, and career navigation skills. The data we have collected will help us measure changes in students’ perceptions, behaviors, and aspirations. As we continue to refine our curriculum and move to a competency-based education model, the Baseline Survey Report will enable us to more systematically assess the immediate-, short-, and long-term impact of our program.
Akilah was selected to host Rwanda's first national inter-university, all-female debate tournament in October. Students came from six universities from all over Rwanda. The Akilah debate team is now ranked third in the nation after winning the semi-final round of the competition.
The Alumnae Association strengthens ties between Akilah graduates and the Institute and builds a greater sense of community amongst graduates. The association provides opportunities for mentorship, professional development, and financial management support.