Using technology to bridge the learning gap across Africa


Imagine a student in the rural Kenyan county of Garissa. She can be the most diligent and committed student in the classroom, powered by support at home and a willingness to learn. However, when it comes to fundamental educational elements like teachers and textbooks, statistically, her access is far from guaranteed.

“The four walls of her classroom really determine what she’s able to do with her curiosity,” says Nivi Mukherjee, an education technologist at the helm of Kio Kit, a tablet learning system designed for a rural African classroom and powered by BRCK, one of Kenya’s first consumer electronics companies. “That was the premise for how we started thinking through what digital access meant in schools.”

On a continent where 30 million children miss out on primary school education yet there is 73% mobile phone penetration, there is little question that the fusing of technology with education in Africa has the potential to expand the educational horizons of millions. The question is just how to implement that in challenging and varied local contexts.

The failings of hardware-driven initiatives such as One Laptop Per Child have proven that lofty initiatives don’t always yield results. The NGO provided laptops to millions of children in developing nations, but research into the project in Peru revealed no measurable gain in language or maths scores. However, across sub-Saharan Africa, a number of projects are proving that scalable, regionally-tailored, and uniquely-integrated hardware and software solutions can help to fill the gulfs of learning on the continent.
Read the full story from The Guardian here