Home » Education » PIE Chat | Laura Kaub, Duolingo English Take a look at

PIE Chat | Laura Kaub, Duolingo English Take a look at


Joseph was one of many first college students Laura Kaub suggested when she started working on the African Management Academy, an organisation that helps the event of promising younger leaders throughout Africa. 

He was a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who Kaub describes as “a rare younger man who had been by terribly horrible circumstances”. 

The chances of constructing it to school or college have been stacked in opposition to Joseph. Based on the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee company) solely 5% of refugees have entry to increased schooling, in comparison with 39% of non-refugees. 

“I keep in mind him sitting throughout the desk from me and he was like I simply need to go to school and I don’t know the place to begin,” Kaub stated. 

Kaub’s position on the time was targeted on serving to potential college students like Joseph navigate the difficult world of worldwide admissions – from discovering the fitting establishment to making use of for funding to bodily travelling overseas (many refugees lack passports and different crucial authorized paperwork). 

So the place is Joseph now? With assist from Kaub and her colleagues on the ALA, Joseph attended – and graduated – college. He at the moment works on the MasterCard Basis Students Program, supporting refugee college students to entry tertiary schooling.

Kaub with Joseph Munyambanza, Mastercard Students Program, and Christopher Khaemba, inaugural Dean of African Management Academy.

“That’s type of successful,” Kaub stated. “While you see somebody go off to a college the place they’re a very good match they usually thrive, that’s the finest. After which to see them truly flip round and get entangled in that work is the cherry on prime.”

Earlier this yr, Kaub took on a brand new position heading up Duolingo English Take a look at’s newest program, which – in the course of the pilot section – plans to empower 25 refugee college students to enrol into universities. 

The mission has been designed to assist the UNHCR’s 15by30 initiative, which goals to extend refugee participation in increased schooling to fifteen% by 2030. 

In addition to immediately rising the variety of refugee college students attending college, Duolingo needs to assist construct the capability of the UNHCR’s workers and native officers in order that they’ve the connections and framework to assist extra refugees into increased schooling sooner or later. 

Kaub with 5 MasterCard Basis Students from her program at ALA

Kaub hasn’t all the time labored with such deprived college students. Earlier than becoming a member of the ALA, she labored within the admissions crew at a “highly-selective” liberal arts faculty in America. 

“It was such a privilege,” she stated. “I bought to journey to all elements of the world and inform college students all about that tremendous establishment.”

However Kaub discovered it disheartening that the faculty was solely reaching the wealthiest of worldwide college students. 

“I used to be feeling rather more like a gatekeeper than a gate-opener, particularly at an establishment with restricted monetary support. As beneficiant as they could possibly be, there’s so many extra great college students on the market who want monetary assist,” she stated.

And so, Kaub crossed to the opposite aspect of each the desk and the planet, shifting from the USA to South Africa to start working on the ALA. 

Kaub with Ntakamaze Nziyonvira, co-founder and government director of refugee organisation CIYOTA.

However opening gates for deprived college students isn’t simple. Lack of expertise, lack of economic support, and the “inflexibility” of the admissions course of are just a few of the limitations in the way in which of low-income and forcibly-displaced worldwide college students. 

Kaub is vital of universities for this.

She is disparaging of what number of of them restricted their monetary support for worldwide college students in the course of the pandemic, even when their endowments continued to develop.

She denounces their often-impenetrable admissions processes that solely work for college students who can “fly to a complete different nation to take the TOEFL or the SAT”.

However Kaub can also be hopeful that increased schooling can – and can – change. 

“I feel not sufficient universities are being courageous and revolutionary”

“I’d actually love for universities to check out their processes from the angle of a low-income worldwide scholar or a refugee and say, ‘OK, what can we simply get out of the way in which?’” she stated. 

“I feel not sufficient universities are being courageous and revolutionary and how they’ll make this course of itself simpler”.

Kaub is adamant that faculties and universities shouldn’t see refugee college students as a burden. Most establishments, she argues, have already got the mechanisms in place to assist them. 

“It’s most likely not completely different from what you’re already doing for some college students in your campus,” she stated.

“The low earnings scholar from the city subsequent door may have the identical little bit of extra tutorial refresher as the child who’s coming from the Central African Republic.” 

Kaub needs to listen to from universities which can be focused on supporting refugee college students or wish to make their English language testing extra accessible. In any case, a extra various cohort can profit everybody. 

“College students from these completely different backgrounds, together with actually troubled backgrounds, have all of this attitude and knowledge and resilience and willpower and dedication to their research,” Kaub stated. 

“They create a lot to the neighborhood they usually can enrich the schooling a lot for the opposite college students on the college”. 


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