After a decade of building the Akilah Institute in Rwanda, the founders say they have embarked on the journey of launching a new global network of universities, Davis College.
Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes co-founded Akilah Institute with her husband Dave Hughes to provide transformational education for young women in Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“We have seen extraordinary success with our 2,000 alumni and students, and we are now ready to scale our unique model of personalised and affordable higher education,” Elizabeth says.
In a video conference, she described Davis College as a “Rwandan export being taken to the world” and seeks to educate future leaders to champion opportunity and sustainability in solving the world’s most pressing challenges.
Davis College will be running a blended learning approach which combines online educational materials and traditional face-to-face learning.
College officials say they have built an academic model and curriculum around the emerging fields like artificial intelligence, data analytics, and digital finance among others.
Their target is to become market responsive and relevant in Africa’s private sector where the gap for skilled and competent graduates is still significantly high.
“We are thinking about things like artificial intelligence and how to go about teaching exactly in that sense. These are the kind of components we are integrating into our curriculum,” said Cristi Ford, Davis College’s Chief Academic Officer.
They target to open 10 campuses across Africa and Asia and educate one million students by 2030, a big target that requires significant resources. It is, however, a challenge they say they are ready to take on
The big idea
Ms Hughes says she has witnessed first-hand the global higher education crisis and the need for scalable solutions.
The next decade will see an additional 800 million secondary graduates than today. Asia and Africa are the driving force behind the expansion.
As automation, climate change, and population growth change the world at a rapid pace, traditional schools are unable to provide high quality and affordable education to millions of young people.
Ms Hughes argues that there is need for a new model of higher education that empowers students to boldly face the realities of the twenty-first century. “We reject the notion of a one-size-fits-all approach and deliver a customized experience that inspires excellence.”
Davis College Rwanda will open in Kigali in June 2020 and offer a wide range of programmes.
Davis College Hong Kong will open in September 2020 and recruit students from across Asia.
“Akilah is, and will continue to be, designed to serve female students at our women's campus, preparing them to thrive as leaders in careers of the future,” she says.
According to Ms Hughes, Davis College is named in honour of her parents, Beth and Cody Davis, who were instrumental in bringing the Akilah Institute vision to life.
“My father passed away unexpectedly in 2017, and I am proud to honour his legacy by creating education opportunities for as many people as possible,” she notes.