Mobile technology promotes access to better education in sub-Saharan Africa, a region where millions of children drop out of primary school and where teachers are lacking.
In 2009, Steve Vosloo, a learning specialist, launched Yoza Cellphone Stories in South Africa, an application for young people to read and comment on stories and poems on their mobile phones. Other similar projects have been launched in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, including:
- Dr. Math in South Africa connects students with math tutors on a live chat via Mxit *, a social networking site.
- MoMaths in Nigeria provides advice on preparing for high school exams via SMS.
- MobiLiteracy, in Uganda, provides daily reading lessons to illiterate parents via mobile phones.
- Rethink Education *, a for-profit organization, provides math and science content to high school students in South Africa on the Internet and mobile platforms.
But the fastest growing mobile educational project is Eneza Education *, started in Kenya four years ago by American teacher Toni Maraviglia and Kenyan technician Kago Kagichiri.
The service, provided by 15 employees and 40 independent teachers, provides content that follows the national curriculum. Students and teachers can subscribe to it on a variety of platforms, including simple cell phones. Those who live in remote parts of the country are the biggest users of the service.
Eneza is a commercial enterprise. The monthly subscription giving access to the material costs the equivalent of 50 cents (American). Toni Maraviglia says the number of subscribers (currently 860,000) has increased six-fold over the past three years.
“We couldn’t have made a better decision than to be a business enterprise,” she said. By opening its capital, Eneza Education has attracted investors and qualified personnel. (The business is not yet profitable.)
Through the Girl Effect Accelerator Mentorship Program, the founders of Eneza have learned from other entrepreneurs in Africa and from mentors in the United States. Originally focused on schools, Toni Maraviglia realized that Eneza could grow faster by selling the service directly to students and their families. In the long term, the hope is to reach 50 million users across Africa.
“Our goal is to get huge,” Toni Maraviglia told BBC News in 2015.