While African leaders and policy makers come together at different times to discuss possible ways of transforming the continent’s education sector and improving access to education, African entrepreneurs are also tackling the issue. Young entrepreneurs across Africa have taken brilliant steps in contributing to the development of a revitalised educational sector. Below is a list of 10 startups focused on reinventing education in Africa.
Ubongo: A social enterprise founded by Tanzania-based Entrepreneurs, Nisha Ligon and Cleng’a Ng’atigwa. Ubongo produces a 30-minute colourful Edutainment TV show called Ubongo Kids, designed to help children discover the joys of math through fun, local stories and songs. In many countries children detest mathematics, and most record poor performances in the subject, but Ubongo is changing perceptions by helping children in East Africa improve their understanding of the subject through the interactive educational cartoon show that combines mathematical concepts with fun animated and catchy songs.
Prepclass: The tech startup was founded in 2012, by two young Nigerian entrepreneurs, Chukwuwezam Obanor and Ogunlana Olumide. Prepclass provides a database of study content to help prepare prospective university students for their Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams. A three month subscription-based model gives students full access to all content on the platform for a fee of around $6.
Within just a few months of launching, Prepclass was identified as one of Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in Africa for 2014.
Brainshare: An EdTech startup based in Uganda, founded by Charles Muhindo. The web & mobile app enables students to easily exchange notes, past papers, revision materials, course work or ask questions remotely.
Brainshare strategically places teachers, students and parents in one eco-system. Teachers can upload notes, offer assignments and moderate student discussions whereas students can easily access content anywhere anytime with or without the internet. Parents can also use Brainshare to keep in touch with their children and their teachers. The App offers UNEB past questions to O-level and A-Level students, starting from those in Uganda, but soon expanding to other East African countries such as Kenya.
Afrotalez: Nigerian Entrepreneur, Elizabeth Kperrun-Eremie is the brain behind Afrotalez, an app that promotes African traditional stories. The interactive Android app tells African Folktales with an aim to also improve the mental capabilities of young kids between the ages of 3 and 9.
Launched in October 2013, with the pilot episode called the Tortoise, the Elephant and the Hippopotamus, Elizabeth has seen her edutainment app grow to 50,000 users. Her team is currently working on the release of the second episode of Afrotalez, which would target children between the ages of two and 10. Elizabeth hopes the stories told on the app will impart morals and lessons to children.
Nairobi Dev School: The school was established in 2012 by Kenyan Entrepreneur, Martha Chumo. Nairobi Dev School equips youth in East Africa with computer programming skills and helps them build technology-based solutions to everyday challenges.
Obami: Founded by Barbara Mallison, the Cape Town, South Africa-based e-learning and communications platform creates an online community that brings together students, teachers, and other individuals in the education space together for a unified learning experience. Through Obami people can share and discuss educational lessons and resources regardless of where they are in the world, as long as they have internet access.
The platform which uses the familiar Facebook styles as its user interface, was named by Business Insider as one of the top 20 most inspiring company in the world.
Beni American University: Gossy Ukanwoke is the President and Founder of Beni American University, an online institution which hopes to bring quality education to every African youth, adult or teenager willing to study for a post secondary diploma or degree.
Gossy was still a student when he launched Students Circle, an educational Social Network that offers academic resource to students. Later on, the idea evolved into Beni American University, a private online institution and first of its kind in Nigeria. The young Entrepreneur sees BAU leading also the growth of online, hybrid and combined learning in Nigeria.
Funda: Funda, which means to learn in Zulu, is the brain child of Nigerian Entrepreneur, Kolawole Olajide. Olajide developed the concept of Funda out of a need that he identified while he was a student at CTI in Cape Town. He wanted to have access to learning material and his educators anywhere, at any time and needed a platform with which to make this possible.
Alongside four other young entrepreneurs — Kennedy Kitheka (Kenya), Jason Muloongo (Zambia), Sameer Rawjee (South Africa) and Kumbirai Gundani (Zimbabwe), a free mobile app was created. With the app, which can be downloaded to a user’s smartphone, students can access the e-learning portal via a keycode provided by the university they are registered to. Among several accolades, Funda in 2012 won the United Nations award for Best Technology Innovation in Education for meeting the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
ZEduPad: The ZEduPad is an educational tablet tailored to Zambia and designed by British tech entrepreneur Mark Bennett, who has worked in the country for 3 decades. The computer tablet which teaches users basic numeracy and literacy skills, is aimed at primary school children. The tablets also includes education information for Adults on health, farming and financial literacy.
Approved by the Zambian Ministry of Education, the ZEduPad is programmed in eight different languages native to Zambia with over 12,000 preloaded classes and lesson plans for untrained teachers in rural areas.
Eneza Education: The Kenyan startup, co-founded by Toni Maraviglia, Kago Kagichiri and Chris Asegotwo, former members of Nairobi’s iHub community, aims to provide kids in rural Africa with a virtual tutor. Eneza Education creates educational content that kids in low-income rural areas can access on low-end cell phones. Through its “virtual classroom,” students between the ages of 11 and 18 can study subjects including Math, Science, and English, and take any of its 2,000 quizzes and more than 16,000 questions, with the option of a mini lesson if they score below 50%—all for the equivalent of 50 U.S. cents a month.
They can also search Wikipedia by sending a text message, or ask teachers questions and receive a response within an hour. Teachers can also assign homework through the platform and receive reports on student performance. Eneza’s mission is to make 50 million kids across rural Africa smarter.