• NTQ World Blog

Africa EdTech: how technology is changing education in Africa

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

Technology is rapidly advancing and there are no signs of it stopping. It has transformed any industries including education

Tools such as mobile learning, cloud computing, and gamification are dynamically changing the learning experience. Amazingly there’s more computing power inside even the most basic mobile phone than there was on the Apollo 11 when it landed on the moon in 1969.

“I believe the true opportunity, both for technology to transform lives and societies through better education, and to build EdTech companies of great value, may lie in Africa.”

- Jamie Martin, Founder of Injini

his means if you don’t have ready access to a laptop, you may not be competing on a level playing field.

At WorldRemit, we recognise just how passionate our customers are about education. In fact, our research of January 2019, found out that remittances help more than 3.5 million students around the world to go to school.

So, we’d like to share some EdTech insights, as well as the latest e-learning trends in Africa with you.

What is EdTech and e-learning?

EdTech (Education Technology) combines innovative learning techniques with digital technology. As such it represents a new era of education.

It’s so much more than just a tablet full of educational content. In emerging countries, it’s about building the right infrastructure, providing the right hardware and software. >It’s also about answering questions around the right content, training, and support.

EdTech fulfills three roles:

  • It’s a set of tools providing digital alternatives to delivering education to students

  • It’s an academic discipline – studying, learning and teaching methods and how to utilise them in a digital form

  • It’s an industry consisting of educators, start-ups, and companies who develop educational technology tools

Many educators, as well as parents, understand that technology has the power to elevate education. So, it’s no surprise that the demand for EdTech products is increasing. It’s now grown to be a multi-billion market!

The beginning of e-learning in Africa

In 1960, several African countries combined education and technology using radio and TV to improve training for teachers and provide lessons to students.

The 1990s was the era of computer hardware. National and international entities started equipping schools with computers facilitating digital education – such as educational software and CDs.

Initiatives such as AISI (Africa Information Society Initiative) or OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) were promising at first but didn’t fit in the African environment. AISI failed to deliver on its promise to connect African villages with a global information network by 2010. And OLPC laptops were expensive, limited and needed electricity to work – something that wasn’t possible in many schools.

From 2010 onwards, modernised tablets and mobile tools offered a solution to resolve the lack of books and educational materials. The most significant progress occurred in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda.

A huge step forward was noted when mobile money providers (such as M-Pesa) started offering educational content – or a way to pay for it. Mobile technology (also called m-learning) has become one of the top educational resources.

What are the advantages of EdTech?

EdTech helps students access global education

There are many countries around the world lacking access to tools and resources in their educational sector. If integrated thoughtfully, e-learning applications and platforms are a cost-efficient solution to this issue.

The focus of many developers is to make educational technology available to as many students around the world as possible.

EdTech helps students develop in-demand skills

Digital technology will soon be at the core of most industries. The interactive approach of educational technology encourages students to obtain digital skills, which will be vital to succeed in the labour market.

EdTech brings global opportunities for national economies

It’s important to teach students digital skills – so they can become a generation that’s ready to compete in a global market.

If students can become familiar with technology at a young age, it sparks many market possibilities – even a chance to compete against developed economies!

What are the challenges of EdTech in Africa?

EdTech companies are promising to unlock Africa’s potential through leveraging educational technologies. What are their challenges?

Electricity and internet access

Approximately 800 million people in Africa don’t have access to the internet. Data released by the InternetWordStats server showed that there are 11,481 % active internet users in Africa by June 2019. Internet penetration covers approximately 39,8% of Africa.

Most internet users are to be found in South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. The obstacles to accessing internet connection in Africa comes with low computer literacy.

This represents a challenge for EdTech companies, trying to find a way to incorporate technology in areas with little to no internet connection.

Educational and technology gap

Many children under 12 years old will likely one day be employed in jobs that do not yet exist.

Some say that the poverty gap is a technology gap. Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest educational exclusion, with up to 97 million children out of school. The education system must prepare the youth for jobs in a tech economy, or Africa risks falling further behind.

The African population is mainly made up of young people. In 2019, youth unemployment (15-24) in Africa reached close to 30%. The market often doesn’t hold secure employments for youth, limiting their income-earning opportunities

Price and payments

Educational content takes up a lot of recourses to develop, update and distribute. And even when you decide to buy, you’re facing a challenge of how to pay for it.

EdTech is often purchased using airtime. However, around 30-40% of the total amount goes to pockets of mobile network providers.

It’s probably no surprise that Africa, with its soaring levels of mobile phone ownership, also has the highest mobile learning growth rate, according to e-learning specialists Docebo.

Many EdTech start-ups rely on mobile network providers, but the onboarding process is slow and often complicated.

What are some of the best African EdTech initiatives in 2019?

There are many ventures that are determined to fill the gaps in the education sector in Africa. Here is a list of some of the most exciting companies – as well as some promising but less known ones.

Eneza Education – Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast

Eneza delivers tailored educational content either online, via applications, or basic feature phones.

Co-founded by Kenyan technologist Kago Kagichiri and educator Toni Maraviglia, Eneza Education has over 800 000 users. Method-based mainly on SMS, users pay for the service by airtime and the payment is integrated within all major mobile network operators.

Eneza provides students with mobile access to quizzes connected to a national curriculum. Once the assessment is completed via text, students receive feedback and mini-lessons targeting areas where they need support.

Kio Kit and SupaBRCK – East Africa

The Kio Kit is a handy box packed with various digital education tools. Mainly designed for schools in low-income communities in emerging markets, the kit comes with 40 wireless SupaBRCK tablets preloaded with educational content. The content is divided into three sections:

  • Local curriculum

  • Games stimulating critical thinking

  • Content focused on becoming a responsible citizen and being aware of the environment

Kio Kit is the only company in East Africa with such a team of engineers and OS software teams. Their products are affordable and provide consistent internet connection, even in the most remote areas.

It connects to BRCK – Kenyan communications hardware company providing 3G hotspot and WiFi.

When it’s connected to BRCK, it can be updated with new materials. It operates with a similar idea as One Laptop Per Child, but is more localized and targeted to the needs of specific areas.

Ubongo – Tanzania

The winner of the Next Billion Edtech Prize, Ubongo operates in 31 countries and in 11 million households.

It provides fun, localised and multi-platform educational content for kids via accessible technologies like TV, radio and mobile phones. Shows, apps and educational content surrounding platforms Akili and Me, and Ubongo Kids significantly improve school readiness and learning outcomes for kids.

M-Shule – Kenya

M-Shule creates hundreds of personalised mini-lessons in Maths and English. These lessons are delivered via the SMS interface, and children can access it either via their phone or their parents.

M-Shule then analyses their performance, and shares it with their teachers or parents – giving them community support where they need it.

Snapplify – South Africa and Kenya

Snapplify is an award-winning platform offering e-learning content and e-books in their digital library. It’s Africa's largest e-book distributor – having more than 240 000 titles available for students to read.

Available in over 1000 schools across Africa, it also allows students to access books directly in their school, rather than having to download them individually.

Yusudi - Kenya

Yusudi’s mission is to close the bridge between education and the labour market. Their training focuses on developing skills and unleashing individual talents needed to succeed in a job market, It creates a sense of responsibility and ownership over their professional future for each student.

By digitalizing their course, Yusudi aims to become a low-cost, massive-open-online-course offering virtual mentoring for youth.

Moringa School - Kenya

Like Yusudi, Moringa school also prepares young people for their future careers. How? By offering students the necessary technical and professional training to compete in a digital, global economy.

Offering high-quality education and training in programming, full-stack development and mobile development, Moringa School is highly praised by graduates..

BeBlocky - Ethiopia

BeBlocky is a gamified learn-to-code app for children between the ages of 6-13. It teaches children the basics of programming and robotics in a fun and interactive way.

Users get to program the friendly robot BlockyBot to do different movements and tasks – making it a fun and intuitive way of learning how to code.

eLimu - Kenya

eLimu is a buzzword in the EdTech world of Africa. A leading digital educational content provider in East Africa, its literacy apps are engaging and fun, helping students improve their skills both at school and at home.

Their Hadithi Hadithi! The app is designed for children between 6 – 7 years old. The content is aligned with national curriculums, and encourages children’s love of reading with African stories in English, as well as in local languages.

And older students can benefit from the KCPE Revision platform – offering thousands of lessons covering the whole KCPE Curriculum and new topics like life skills, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and digital safety.

Tuteria – Nigeria

Tuteria is an online platform that helps students to connect with qualified tutors in their area. With their help, students can master the subjects, skills and exams that matter to them.

Students can also rate their tutors and book lessons upfront, using an online payment system.

ScholarX - Nigeria

ScholarX is a platform focused on educational financing, which helps students to access scholarships.

Students often miss out on opportunities, only due to a lack of awareness. Via ScholarX, students can share their stories and needs and get a donor to support them.

How is WorldRemit helping students in Africa?

We’re a fast-growing fin-tech company founded in 2010, which specialises in the migrant money transfer market. Education is one of our customers’ top priorities, with many sending money home to pay for loved ones’ education.

Every month, our customers complete over 1.3 million transfers from over 50 countries to over 145 destinations.

So, visit www.worldremit.com for more information on how to send money in just a few taps on your phone.

Note: Story published in Worldremit.

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