Akilah Institute Announces Bachelor's Degrees

After nearly a decade of offering our award-winning, two-year diplomas in information systems, hospitality management, entrepreneurship, and business management, we are proud to announce that the Akilah Institute is developing bachelor’s degrees in these majors and additional areas of study.

The next step in our journey of constant improvement and innovation

Ten years ago, we opened our doors to the first class of Akilah Institute students. We had only 50 students and two classrooms, but our goal was clear: to educate women and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to build fulfilling careers.

Since then we have been single-minded in our focus on our mission of educating future leaders on how to solve the world’s most pressing problems through a lens of opportunity and sustainability.

This commitment has manifested in a continuous drive for improvement of our academic offering — driven by our academic pillars of 21st-century skills, personalized learning, innovation, ethical leadership, and sustainability.

It has led to a number of ground-breaking innovations and improvements over the last few years. In 2017, we became one of the first higher education institutions in Africa to transition to a competency-based education model, completely redesigning and upgrading our curriculum in the process. Last year, we evolved further, by launching the implementation of a blended-learning model that leverages analytics to create truly personalized learning experiences for students.

Today, we are proud to share that we are continuing our journey of constant improvement and innovation by developing our own accredited bachelor’s degrees. We are excited to work closely with the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the Workforce Development Authority and other key stakeholders to offer this new program and extension of the award-winning Akilah education. We plan to accept our first degree students in summer 2021 and are working with the Ministry to develop a plan for Akilah alumnae to complete the additional course work required to receive a degree. We will offer degrees in our current areas of expertise: technology, business, entrepreneurship, and hospitality/tourism, in addition to new degrees aligned with the fastest growing sectors of the East African economy.

Welcoming Dr. Cristi Ford to the Akilah Institute

To help spearhead this process, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Cristi Ford has joined our team as our Chief Academic Officer to lead our academic strategy. Dr. Ford is passionate about leveraging adaptive learning tools and artificial intelligence to gain insights from student data and create personalized learning journeys. She brings over two decades of cumulative experience in higher education, program evaluation, training, instructional design, and student services to her new role.

Prior to joining Akilah, Dr. Ford was the Associate Vice-Provost at the University of Maryland University College. Before this, she served as director of the Research Academy for Integrated Learning for the University of the District of Columbia.

I am certain her experience and leadership will be of tremendous value to Akilah as we continue our growth journey.

An eye on the future

Despite significant progress over the past decade, less than 15% of young people in Africa still do not have access to higher education. Among women, the level of access is even lower. Yet, better access to education for women has been proven to be one of the most impactful measures to drive economic growth and reduce the rate of climate change.

As we approach our Decennial celebration and the graduation of 400+ young women, I’m more energized than ever about the Akilah impact, our plans to expand our academic offerings and for scale across the continent.

This exciting expansion is only made possible by the experience our team has gained over the last decade, and the unwavering support from our community. As we continue to grow and evolve, we’re grateful to our students, graduates, staff, partners, and donors.

We have more exciting news in the pipeline. Please join me on March 8 at 9 am EST for our Q1 Community Briefing Call where I will be sharing more information about our plans and answering questions. Please click here to add the date to your calendar.

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes