A computer scientist by training, he leverages his expertise to benefit South Africans by offering solutions aimed at making education more accessible and effective for every student, whatever their background.

South African computer scientist and entrepreneur Dacod Magagula (photo), a University of Cape Town graduate, co-founded FoondaMate in 2020 with Tao Boyle, after honing his expertise at various companies. FoondaMate, where Magagula serves as CEO, aims to provide accessible, high-quality educational resources to South African students.

The company uses artificial intelligence to develop chatbots for messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The goal is to equip students, especially those without internet access or who have difficulty finding pertinent information, with the necessary tools for academic success.

Magagula’s inspiration for FoondaMate stemmed from his educational struggles. Raised in a resource-scarce rural township in Mpumalanga, South Africa, he fully understands the challenges many students face. “I went to a school in a rural township school in Mpumalanga, South Africa, that didn’t have resources. I did not have electricity at home until I was 7,” he recounted.

FoondaMate, which initially offered downloads of old exam papers, now boasts over a million users who use the service via WhatsApp or Messenger for homework assistance and exam preparation.

Before his entrepreneurial venture, Magagula gained significant web development experience. In 2016, he interned at Lumico, a digital marketing agency, as a web application developer. From 2017 to 2021, he held successive positions as a full stack developer at Monetise E-commerce, an e-commerce agency, and as a full stack engineer at ninety9cents, a South African advertising agency.

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

Following his IT training, tech entrepreneur Ousseynou Diop embarked on a mission to make IT training accessible to those seeking new opportunities. His startup has introduced training programs designed to meet the continent's needs amidst the rapid digital transformation.

Xarala Academy, an e-learning solution developed by a Senegalese startup, offers training in various information and communication technology areas through its web and mobile platforms. The startup, established in 2017 by Ousseynou Diop and based in Pikine, derives its name “xarala” from the Wolof language, meaning “technology”.

"We firmly believe that education has the power to transform - not just individuals, but entire communities and nations. Our vision is rooted in the belief that every African talent trained is one step closer to a better future, where technology is a lever for improving lives," says Ousseynou Diop.

The Xarala Academy mobile application, available on iOS and Android, allows users to access a variety of edtech courses after creating an account. These courses cover areas such as web and mobile development, cybersecurity, design, digital marketing, and project management, typically lasting twelve weeks.

The courses are designed for beginners, with the belief that the twelve-week period is sufficient to acquire the necessary skills in the chosen field. The startup does not require any specific level of education to access its courses, making them accessible to anyone who can read and write.

Xarala Academy, accessible 24/7, has over 6,000 learners on its web and mobile platforms. The Android version of its mobile application has been downloaded more than a thousand times, according to the Play Store.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

At just 15 years old, a serious accident left Nathan Nwachuku sidelined from school for six long months. During his recovery, he discovered the potential of online classes and decided to fully devote to it, by setting up Klas.

Nigerian start-up Klas, co-founded by Nathan Nwachuku and Lekan Adejumo in 2022, has developed an edtech solution that allows users to establish their online schools on its web platform. Since its inception, the start-up has raised $1.3 million to enhance its technology and foster growth.

For Nwachuku, Klas is similar to the e-commerce platform Shopify but for online courses. “What they are doing for online stores where anyone can set up their stores and sell anything online is what Klas is trying to do for its users by helping them set up online schools and run classes,” he told TechCrunch.

To use Klas, users must visit its website and create an account by providing their first name, last name, phone number, and email address. After setting up a password, users can proceed to create their online school in a field of their choice, with options ranging from coding and finance to art and foreign language learning. Klas provides a variety of course formats, including live courses, pre-recorded video content, and ebooks.

Unlike other edtech companies that integrate tools like Google Meet or Zoom for classroom experiences, Klas has developed its tool, KlasLife. Nwachuku explains that KlasLife, built from scratch with a unique video architecture, does not use a video programming interface. He emphasizes Klas’s focus on a closed ecosystem, contrasting it with other large companies that are essentially integration toolkits with fully integrated platforms.

Klas offers a free package that includes services such as recorded courses and ebooks, along with two paid packages priced at $29/month and $99/month (yet to be launched). The company also plans to introduce additional services for businesses, such as employee development, to increase revenues. As of February 2024, Klas boasts over 5,000 online schools and more than 300,000 students, intending to reach 100,000 online schools by 2027.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Schools everywhere had to close for COVID-19, so teaching online became super important, like a must-do. But just throwing kids online isn't enough. Schools need new tools and new ways of teaching to make sure students learn what they need in a world that's always changing.

To modernize education and enhance transparency, the Tunisian Ministry of Education on Wednesday launched "L’école de la Tunisie du futur," a comprehensive digital platform for students, parents, and teachers.

Accessible at http://www.tarbia.tn./fr, the platform provides dedicated portals for each group, streamlining administrative processes, facilitating distance learning, and offering real-time student monitoring. Parents can track attendance, assignments, and progress reports, while educators can manage classes and engage with students remotely.

This digital initiative dovetails with the Ministry's broader strategy of integrating technology into schools and closing the digital divide. The “Modern School on Every Hill" project aims to connect 3,300 schools to broadband internet by the end of the year, bridging the connectivity gap in rural areas.

According to Minister of Education Mohamed Ali Boughdiri, with the digital transition being crucial to improving education quality, the platform not only promotes transparency and efficiency but also streamlines essential services such as school meals, scholarships, and guidance.

Samira Njoya

Published in Public Management

With the acceleration of digital transformation across Africa, private and public companies and public administration are looking for digital skills. This startup offers a solution with its edtech platform.

Stutern is an edtech platform developed by a Nigerian startup. It enables access to IT courses online. Based in Lagos, the startup behind the edtech platform was founded in 2015 by Kehinde Ayanleye (photo, right) and Taiwo Ayanleye (photo, left).

On Stutern, users can choose from a range of courses, including UI/UX design, front-end and back-end web development, data science, and mobile development. As the solution has no mobile app, users have to visit its web platform, create their accounts, and register their interest in the said courses. 

To register their interest, they need to fill out a form stating their interest and motivation and answer questions about their general skills in writing and video form. They will then answer specific and technical questions relating to the chosen program. Their suitability to the desired courses will be determined based on the various answers provided.  

Training lasts between 16 and 24 weeks, with two sessions per week. It's worth noting that courses are held live online, and learners can ask questions for better understanding. The edtech startup allows learners to pay their fees in three different ways. These include full payment, payment in installments, and a revenue-sharing agreement. The latter means that the learner pays part of the tuition during the course and then repays the rest after finding a job, according to a revenue-sharing agreement.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) switched to online learning in mid-June. To strengthen its offering, the university is signing partnerships and multiplying efforts to meet the needs of thousands of students.

Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) and the National Telecommunications Company of Senegal (SONATEL) signed a partnership agreement last Friday, July 14. The move is to launch the "Pass UCAD" program, whose goal is to allow UCAD’s students and teachers to access the university’s dedicated online learning platform for free.

SONATEL’s Managing Director, Sékou Dramé (picture on the right), announced the establishment of a platform that allows students to continue classes online. "From next week, it will be implemented. This platform will allow students to identify themselves and access this specific 'Pass UCAD' issued for students, which will allow them to connect to the online teaching platform set up by the university for free until October 31," he said.

A month ago, the Senegalese government decided to adopt online education in the country's public universities amidst violent protests that broke out after opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was convicted. Many universities’ facilities were destroyed during the protests; these include six UCAD faculties.

The new partnership with SONATEL will support education and promote internet access for UCAD students. It will also allow students to benefit from educational resources and online research, as well as strengthen their digital skills, and prepare them for the digital future.

Samira Njoya

Published in Tech

To ensure internet access for all schoolchildren in Rwanda, the government has set up the "School Connectivity Program". Launched in March, the pilot phase of the project takes into account 500 schools throughout the country.

As part of this program, US firm Starlink recently deployed the internet in 50 schools across the country’s rural zones. The news was disclosed by the Rwandan Ministry of ICT and Innovation on July 5.

According to the source, the first stage of the project marks an important step towards reducing the digital divide and ensuring that all Rwandan schools have internet, especially in remote areas.

Announced a few months ago, the project falls under the government’s School Connectivity Program launched in March 2023. It is the product of a collaboration between the Rwandan government, Starlink, and a contribution from Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Through his foundation, Blair has committed to connecting 10% of the 500 schools in the pilot phase of the project.

With the Internet, the more than 18,000 students enrolled in the schools covered by the project will have access to online courses and be able to improve their academic results. 

In Rwanda, 44% of the schools do not have access to the Internet. Last February, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, stated that about 3,000 of the 6,756 schools in Rwanda were not yet connected to the Internet.

Samira Njoya

Published in News

Given the centrality of digitization in development, it is now crucial for the population to possess digital skills to adapt to forthcoming changes. Consequently, numerous governments are taking steps to empower their citizens, ensuring the achievement of developmental objectives.

The Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communications, and The Digital Economy has introduced a nationwide digital literacy program. To drive economic transformation, the initiative will establish laboratories across the country to enhance digital skills and literacy. Over 23,000 devices will be installed in educational institutions and ICT hubs.

During the inauguration of a digital laboratory at Maseno School in Kisumu County on July 5, Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary (CS) of the Ministry, emphasized that the initiative is in line with the government's objective of digitizing services. “We want our youth and the public at large to uptake digital skills so that they are relevant in the current operating environment,” he said.

The program aims to benefit youth and the public, aligning with the government's digitization efforts. The government is also facilitating e-commerce through free public Wi-Fi, a national addressing system, digital identification cards, and affordable smartphones. Discussions with global tech giants are underway to create online work opportunities for Kenyan youth.

Additionally, to maximize the utilization of the government's digital infrastructure, affordable smart mobile phones that are locally assembled will be launched in August, aiming to cater to a wide range of Kenyans.

Hikmatu Bilali

Published in News

Africa suffers from inadequate access to education despite the governments’ efforts. To address the challenges preventing access in some regions, tech entrepreneurs create edtech tools but, they are sometimes inadequate to ground realities.  

Genoskul is an edtech solution developed by a Chadian start-up. It allows access to online training courses, and tutors. It also allows users to get relevant answers to their questions, thanks to its smart assistant. 

Through its Android app, users can register with an email or phone number to access services like virtual classrooms, where they can discuss with other learners. 

"The virtual rooms interconnect learners from different backgrounds for an intellectual exchange. They are supervised by qualified teachers for effective preparation for national and international secondary and higher education exams and competitions,” the startup explains.  

Genoskul offers courses in a diverse range of professions such as loincloth shoe making, shea butter processing, and rabbit breeding, as well as in public management and sustainable development, and civic action. According to Valery Kagro, founder of Genoskul, everyone should have access to the education and training of their choice, whatever their age or the type of training they aspire to. 

To support its growth, Genoskul has raised CFAF5 million (around $8,149). It is also supported by Chad Innovation, an incubator that gave the start-up a stand at the Gitex Africa 2023 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Recently, it told We Are Tech Africa it has over 17,000 users in French-speaking African countries. It also indicated it was planning to create an English and Arabic version of its platform to expand to African countries where these languages are spoken.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The solution aims to contribute to the achievement of some sustainable development goals related to the quality of education and the reduction of gender inequalities.

iSchool is an edtech platform that allows children aged 6 to 18 to learn software development, artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). It was developed by an Egyptian startup, founded in 2018, by Mohamed Algawish, Mustafa AbdelMon'em, Ebrahim Youssef, and Mohamed Nabil.

It has no mobile app yet. So, to access its courses, users need to visit its web platform. For 6 to 8-year-olds, it offers a coding program that teaches them programming basics.  For kids aged between 9 and 12, it teaches programming languages such as Python or JavaScript. With iSchool, learners aged 13 and beyond start building project portfolios in preparation for their university studies or entry into the job market. 

To effectively teach learners, the edtech opted for the STEAM (Science, Technologies, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) methodology, which allows students to learn through experimentation to better assimilate the concepts inherent to each discipline. Classes are conducted in Arabic and English and learners are grouped into teams of 4-6 students of the same age range for 2 hours 30 minutes of learning each week.

In 2018, iSchool was one of the winners of the Bizex startup competition. Currently, it claims more than 10,000 students enrolled, 250 instructors, and more than 650,000 hours of training delivered. According to its data, its students are mainly in Canada, the United States, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, and Palestine.

Since its launch, it has raised $160,000 to develop its platform and expand to other markets in North Africa and the Middle East.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions
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