Start-ups to the rescue of Kenyan education – Le Monde Afrique

To remedy the shortcomings of the country’s education system is the credo of many young innovative companies.

A class at a school in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2015.

Kenyan schools are burning and, fortunately, start-ups do not look anywhere else. In the summer of 2016, the dormitories of a hundred schools were set on fire by their own students angry, raising a wave of anxiety in the country … but also arousing the interest of many young companies innovative.

Because the generalized burn-out does not come from nowhere. ”  In Kenya , only primary school is free, overcrowded classrooms with 50 pupils on average per teacher. There is no individual support and only 20% of students beyond the secondary  , “says Michelle Wangari, responsible for operations in Eneza Education. This start-up (whose name means ”  broadcast  ” in Kiswahili), catapulted by the press ”  first African platform on-line revision  ,” is one of many young shoots of Nairobi Silicon Savannah who decided make fortune by addressing concerns of the Kenyan education system.

Eneza, founded in 2012 by an American professor and a young developer based in Nairobi, already boasts more than 1.7 million users. The company offers a Kenyan pupil aged between 10 and 18 years a school support service operating entirely by SMS. The principle: for 10 shillings per week (less than 0.9 euro), the student receives on his telephone series of exercises of revision and assignments, in the form of questionnaires of multiple choice (MCQ) and open questions, adapted to the level of study, to which he replies by SMS, before receiving a corrected ally for educational mini-lessons. ”  Our students spend an average of two hours a Eneza, two or three days a week. We also have a few users who use it four and a half hours a day! “Says Michelle Wangari.

Good student of the continent

In one of the most connected countries in Africa, where 90% of the population own a mobile phone, the idea has been a hit. Yet, with a primary school enrollment rate of 86% (seven points higher than in the African sub-Saharan) and institutions of higher education prestigious, such as the University of Nairobi, the country was among the good students of the continent . ”  But the system is too centralized around KCPE and KCSE [equivalent of the patent and the baccalaureate] , seen as sesame for the job . Students feel they play their lives on the day of the examination and are forced to study from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. every day all alone for weeks, learning all the questions and answers by heart, “ recalls David Adula, journalist education specialist daily daily Nation.

 There is an urgent need for individualized support  ,” concludes Michelle Wangari. With fashion “Ask The Teacher” of Eneza, the pupil may well ask , again by SMS, recommendations quarantine of teachers employed part-time by a start-up. The application is as interactive as playful and builds bridges with Kenyan actuality: a text game developed by Eneza, named “Where is Mrs. Mandizi? “And depicts a greedy official who stole € 44 million originally intended for repair schools and pay scholarships the student needs help to capture . What remember embarrassing memories: in 2015 five thousand baccalaureate candidates saw their results canceled for having bought the answers to employees of the Ministry of Education, since forcing the government to store subjects placed in metal containers Under police protection.

«Digital classroom»

But Eneza is not the only startup to try to make profits on the back of a Kenyan education system in trouble. Another application developed in Nairobi, called Enewa ( ”  understanding  “), available on PC and tablet, offers students 15 000 questions to the KCSE examinations between 2000 and 2014, sorted by difficulty and materials. ”  The student can draw questions tailored to their level. It allows to be more effective for not all learn by heart  , “says co-founder, Mike Kiprorir.

Other startups are struggling to introduce the digital still a very traditional system. So eKitabu ( “book” in Kiswahili), based in Nairobi, which sold digital textbooks at bargain prices (a few cents to ten euros), 650 schools in Kenya, but also in Uganda , in Rwanda and Ghana . Or BRCK, specializes in portable routers, and today offers schools nationwide a “Kio Kit” containing forty tablets and WiFi station to turn any classroom into ”  digital classroom  ” of the XXI th  century.

These start-ups, who thrive on the failure of the educational institution, or will they turn kill the Kenyan school? ”  We are only there to complete! We stick to the Kenyan curriculum  , “Michelle swears Wangari. It will in any case pass the steep pass to profitability. Eneza, despite its success, still does not generate profits and, with its deterrent price (110 euros per year) – more than a month’s minimum wage – attracted only 200 subscribers. BRCK refuses to reveal its sales figures – perhaps disappointing – its “Kio Kit” , which still costs a whopping 5000 dollars!

But, for all, no question of stopping in such a good way. ”  Pilot Project is already in Tanzania and Ghana , Wangari says Michelle. There is a market of 112 million young Africans for our products . We are targeting at least half.  ”

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Source: eKitabu