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

Krystal Digital was founded by an experienced entrepreneur in the information and communication technology sector, who recognized the need for better information management in Nigerian schools after facing issues getting his college transcript.

In Nigeria, Temitope Ogunsemo is one of the leading figures in the booming edtech segment. He is the founder and CEO of Krystal Digital Network Solutions, which develops edtech solutions to help reduce absenteeism and enhance the skills of Nigerians.

Krystal Digital was founded in 2010 as a result of the founder's difficult and frustrating experience in retrieving his college transcripts. In response, he launched MySkool Portal, a web application that allows efficient school information management by ensuring proper documentation of school data. This marked the birth of Krystal Digital.

 "Krystal Digital emerged as a result of my difficult and frustrating experience when I attempted to get hold of my academic transcript. In a bid to tackle such issues, I developed a school information management system for government-owned secondary schools, spearheaded by King’s College, Lagos. By virtue of the value proposition offered by my organization, the principal of the school liked the product so much, he asked other principals in his network to adopt a similar technology, and Krystal Digital was born," said Temitope Ogunsemo in 2019.

MySkool Portal is now used in more than 20 states in Nigeria, with over 50 institutional clients, including public high schools. It has more than 75,000 active students, bringing Krystal Digital's annual revenue to more than NGN1.1 billion ($2.4 million).

Mr. Temitope Ogunsemo is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, where he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 2008. He also graduated from the University of Salford in the UK, where he earned a master's in information technology. He has worked as a software engineer on several projects and has received several national and international awards. 

In 2017, the ECOWAS Youth Council distinguished him as the West African Personality of the Year. In 2018, he was named by Forbes magazine as one of the 30 most promising young African entrepreneurs, and his MySkool Portal app was chosen as the school management software of the year at the Nigeria Technology Awards. He also received the Most Entrepreneurial Organization in Information and Communication Technology award for his company at the 2018 Nigeria Entrepreneurs Awards.

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

In Africa, the lack of financial resources is not the only factor that affects access to education. The social environment can sometimes also be an obstacle. In those conditions, the well-directed use of ICT tools can address the issue.  

ICT tools can be beneficial in many ways for children’s education, according to the World Bank. The international institution makes this assumption based on the experiment it facilitated, between 2018 and 2020, in the States of Kano and Jigawa, in Northwest Nigeria. The experiment involved 9393 rural households whose children aged 6 to 9 and their parents were subjected to two digital learning approaches. The approaches led to a 42% drop in the nonenrolment rate. 

The baseline sample selected by the World Bank included 2,335 households in 32 communities that received only aspirational videos for parents to change their mindset and wish for better for their children. Also, 2,345 households in 32 communities received aspirational videos, and 40% of them also received a smartphone with educational content. 4,713 households in 64 communities served as a control group.

The results, documented in the  “Improving Enrollment and Learning through Videos and Mobiles Experimental Evidence from Northern Nigeria” policy research paper demonstrate that aspirational videos alone reduced girls' aspirations to marry at the ages of 15 to 18. The videos had the greatest impact on the girls' parents.  In households that received the aspirational videos and the smartphone, children's literacy and numeracy skills improved by 0.46 points and 0.63 points, respectively, compared to the control group.

According to the World Bank, no evidence of heterogeneous effects by gender was found overall, "highlighting the potential of edtech to also effectively reach girls in conservative settings, where girls' seclusion or a strong bias towards boys’ education may prevent girls from accessing formal schooling."

"Our heterogeneous analysis by gender shows that the interventions worked for both girls and boys and that the magnitude of treatment effects across gender were generally similar for the main outcomes (school enrollment, and literacy/numeracy skills),” the research paper informs. 

Social pressure, a barrier to education 

The research reveals that since smartphones are often used by multiple household members in low-resource settings, the resources provided for the experiment improved the literacy and numeracy skills of older, non-targeted siblings, reduced early parenthood among adolescents living in targeted households, and reduced early labor market entry.

For the World Bank, this is bonanza. In its 2019 Reading and Access Research Activity report, the institution revealed that northern Nigeria was significantly behind the national average in terms of education. Less than 3 percent of second graders in public elementary schools could read Hausa text with 80 percent or better comprehension. In the northwest, only 29 percent of women aged 15-49 and 59 percent of men were literate. Only 40 percent of 30-34-year-olds were educated in the northeast and northwest zones, compared to 90 percent in the southeast and southwest regions of the country.

The study believes the situation in the northwest is due to the strong adherence of the population to traditional norms. The formal legal institution of Sharia law, which applies in most northern states and covers social, civil, and criminal matters, has reinforced social norms that encourage early marriage among adolescents and thus early pregnancy. All of this represents additional barriers to education. The emergence of the militant terrorist group Boko Haram, which translates to: "Western education is forbidden," has created an additional barrier to school enrollment and attendance in the north of the country.

According to the World Values Survey 2017-2021 cited by the World Bank, 42 percent of respondents in Nigeria believe that college is more important for a boy than a girl and 41 percent believe that preschoolers suffer when mothers are employed. These norms contrast with those observed in other countries such as Kenya, where the proportions of the population holding these views are 18% and 23% respectively.

Published in Tech

In most African countries, foreign languages -French, English, Spanish, etc…- are the working languages. So, mother tongues are seldom taught. As a result, the number of children speaking or even understanding those mother tongues has shrunk and continues to shrink. In recent years, however, the government and even private actors are devising solutions to that issue. This includes Ambani.

Ambani is an edtech solution developed by a South African startup. It allows users to learn several local languages such as Sizulu, Sisixhosa, Sepedi, Setswana, Tshivenda, or Swahili by playing games or watching specific videos. The startup that launched the solution was founded, in 2018, by Mukundi Lambani and Nkulu Lambani. Based in Johannesburg, its goal is to provide interactive native language instruction to K-12 learners.

“Ambani is here to help educators find the right blend of tools, platforms, and components to fit both learners and teachers' needs,”   the startup informs on its platform.

The solution has a mobile app accessible on Playstore and Appstore. Once registered, users can access the content available on the platform such as slides, videos, or even custom-made games that facilitate learning.

Ambani also offers online tutoring for children over six years old. These are individual lessons given by qualified language teachers. The courses are accessible with monthly subscriptions and learners can buy specific lessons to fill gaps in their learning if they don’t want to commit to monthly subscriptions. 

The startup also uses augmented reality to make learning fun and especially experiential. "When you view the books through the app on your phone, they COME ALIVE in 3D," it says.

The Android version of its mobile app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, according to Play Store data. In 2021, Ambani was distinguished at the MTN Business App Year Awards. It won awards for the best educational solution, best gaming solution, best South African solution, and best solution of the year. The edtech received $68,000 and plans to introduce other African languages such as Yoruba, Shona, and Xitsonga.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions

The digital solution was launched to facilitate access to educational books. Initially launched in South Africa, it is now aiming for the West African market. 

Snapplify is an edtech solution developed by a South African startup. It provides easy access to recommended textbooks. The Cape Town-based startup was founded in 2011 by Wesley Lynch.

The solution has a mobile app accessible for devices running Android or iOS. Through the app, a user can create an account and access the electronic versions of the books and textbooks. The catalogs vary from country to country due to applicable laws and depending on the textbooks used in the concerned country.  

In 2022, the start-up began its West African expansion project since many regional institutions are registered on the platform. "Schools and tertiary institutions are looking for high-quality educational resources that are pertinent and suitable for their region. [...]  Snapplify is providing them with exactly that," Wesley Lynch says. 

Snapplify is growing rapidly, with offices in South Africa, Kenya, the UK, and the US. It has raised about $2 million to accelerate its growth in new markets. Its userbase is also growing fast as proven by Play Store data. Since its launch, the Android version of its mobile app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in Solutions
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