Since its inception, Kepler has aimed to address factors outside of the classroom influencing learning outcomes, including mental and physical health needs. During the programme’s first year, counseling services were contracted out on an “as needed” basis. An end of year report showed traveling to counseling created student
hardships, a gap in knowledge for the counselor between the school programme and provision of services, and that students on campus in need of non-emergency support were left to find services on their own.
Acting on the data from the report, Kepler hired a licensed clinical psychologist on its Kigali campus for the second year of operation. The counselor was supported in developing and running advisory groups on campus and in student housing to ensure each student received support. The psychologist also saw students individually for more acute cases. When Kepler opened a campus in Kiziba refugee camp, the clinical psychologist began scheduled visits to the campus to run advisory groups as well as conduct general screenings for outside services as needed. The counselor has scheduled visits throughout the year, and Kepler is also experimenting with the use of Skype to provide individualised counseling sessions when not present on the refugee camp site.
There are limited professional development services for clinical psychologists in Rwanda. To that end, Kepler’s partner, Southern New Hampshire University is providing a fully funded online Master’s Degree scholarship in psychology for Kepler’s practitioner. Additionally, the university has forged partnerships with expert researchers and practitioners in the United States for mentorship of Kepler’s psychologist. The partnership is mutually beneficial, as the Kepler’s psychologist teaches both mentors and classmates about the Rwandan context and challenges, while receiving SNHU support in problem-solving through challenging cases and methods of group counseling to effectively serve Kepler’s learners.
Story provided by: Kepler ©2017