10 Africans Disrupting Education on the Continent
Education in Africa is characterized by issues like inconsistent curriculums, low-quality educators, poor infrastructure, and poor learning aids, amongst others Despite these formidable challenges, persevering innovators have found ways to improve the learning processes (and environment), for those their solutions are geared towards, sometimes regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds or social divisions. Starting from the days of blackboards and chalk, we have ventured into a time where innovations like gamified learning, electronic devices, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), and various EdTech products revolutionize how we shape the minds of tomorrow.
To help highlight the achievements that have been made in pedagogy on this continent, we will use the most common teaching methods to assess ways in which these processes have been enhanced by some of our most persevering innovators.
Over the years, through exemplary work by experts all over the world, we have been able to highlight factors that affect the way students learn. They include visual & physical defects, learning attitudes, instincts, rivalry, intellectuality, and structure of classrooms, amongst others. From these, educators have been able to highlight the following approaches that have best-served students over time.
As the name suggests, the educator serves as the authority figure that delivers knowledge to the student through lectures or direct instruction and after impartation, the student’s retainability or understanding is assessed through quizzes, presentations, papers, or projects. Fortunately, with tech, innovation has been introduced in the classroom and we see the following innovators enhancing Teacher-Centered approaches:
Sim Shagaya (uLesson Founder||Nigeria)
Sim Shagaya is a banker turned entrepreneur and businessman with a focus in the media and technology sectors. While he has made a difference in a number of industries, he is best known for his work at DealDey, Konga.com and uLesson.
uLesson is an EdTech product that provides high quality lessons on the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) curriculum, online tutors, school and common entrance exam practice questions, live classes, learning analysis & reports and multiplayer quizzes to primary, junior and senior secondary students. Since uLesson was founded in 2019, it has continued to revolutionize the educational experience for students.
Gideon Olarenwaju (Digilearns Co-Founder||Nigeria)
With his focus on maximizing the effect of technology on the Nigerian educational system, Gideon Olarenwaju has dedicated over 7 years to highlighting key areas that will make a difference in teaching methods and this is best seen in Digilearns.
Digilearns was founded in 2020 with a unique focus on knowledge delivery; SMS and USSD-based learning. This EdTech product provides the standard NERDC curriculum to students from low-income families and underserved groups. Its content is available in 3 of Nigeria’s local languages and it utilizes periodic assessments and gamified interactive quizzes to enhance learning.
Kabeya Hertzy (The Student Hub Founder||South Africa)
With the spirit of an entrepreneur, Kabeya Hertzy is also focused on creating unique solutions for knowledge delivery.
Since it was founded in 2015, The Student Hub has made a mark by increasing accessibility to learning materials for students. The company’s approach of making relevant industry skills and learning materials affordable helps students learn in-demand skills which can qualify them for the jobs they want. With its courses being recognized by South Africa’s top employers, it makes it easier for those who can’t afford to go to conventional educational institutions to still make a difference where they are. This helps to improve the quality of graduates and employee performance in the workplace.
Wesley Lynch (Snapplify Founder||South Africa)
With the dream of putting books in the hands of more people, Wesley Lynch founded Snapplify, a marketplace for digital education content, related educational services, and devices. Driven by his passion for e-business strategy and technology, Wesley also co-founded AngelHub to help provide mentorship and advisory services to those who are striving to make a difference as well.
Snapplify exists for radical inclusion to level the playing field in business and give individuals and institutions the resources they need to collaborate, innovate and thrive in their industry. Snapplify was founded in 2011 and it has continued to assist in creating conducive e-learning environments.
Mohamed Youssef ElBaz (Zedny Founder||Egypt)
With Arabic content making up only about 5% of all content online around 2018, despite being one of the most spoken languages in the world, Mohamed ElBaz grew more eager to do something about it. Zedny started with an idea to solve this by producing high-quality learning content in Arabic for e-learning.
Zedny is a virtual personalized academy that prepares its users for the workplace by providing a comprehensive video library of animated books, skills courses, and assessment techniques for individuals or organizations. The holistic education platform exudes Mohamed’s creativity and entrepreneurship with its wide range of offerings.
In this approach, the student is allowed a more open-ended input in the learning process. The educator assumes the role of instructor and learner in the sense that they make the class more interactive and find better ways to maximize student involvement. Enhanced with technology, this approach has been especially welcomed by students and the following innovators are working to always keep students engaged:
Bosun Tijani (STEMCafe Founder||Nigeria)
Bosun Tijani has demonstrated how education and fun can effectively shape the minds of our future leaders. With a background in Economics and Information Systems and Management, he has been able to create communities that will continue to ensure those two aren’t separated for a long while in Nigeria.
His work with STEMCafe stands as a vanguard for those who have larger than life visions of what is possible for Nigerian students. STEMCafe is a non-linear learning space for kids and young adults to discover science, technology, engineering and math. They provide an interactive experience for children, especially those disengaged with school, using Digital labs, Robotics kits, computer games, child-friendly animations, etc; to develop lifelong learning and interest in STEM.
Aaron Fuchs (iXperience Co-Founder||South Africa)
Transformative experiences can be hard to come by but when they do, they have the potential to completely change the trajectory of a person’s life. Aaron Fuchs’ passion project became that transformative experience that has continued to change countless lives.
iXperience shifted from a coding bootcamp to a global career development platform. This was mainly because of the gap that was evident for those who had a difficult time adjusting to the marketplace after leaving higher education. With iXperience, a high school student, undergraduate, or industry professional can prepare for/enhance their competence in the workplace, by pushing themselves out of their comfort zones to become adaptive problem solvers through online or on-the-field activities.
Kago Kagichiri (Eneza Education Co-Founder||Kenya)
Sparked by a passion for creating solutions for the underserved population, Kago Kagichiri helped create Eneza Education, a learning platform that provides curriculum-aligned revision materials in all subjects for primary and secondary students.
Using SMS and web-based delivery for its content, Eneza Education has been able to stimulate student engagement to improve academic performance. The platform also utilizes a virtual tutor to answer questions users might have while engaging with the content.
Alex Magu (STEM Impact Center Kenya Founder||Kenya)
Alex Magu is a man passionate about equity and inclusion. In his quest to improve the lives of children and young people through science, technology, and innovative experiences, he founded STEM Impact Center Kenya in 2021.
STEM Impact Center Kenya is a nonprofit organization that runs a mobile STEM tinkering lab, which provides creative space and resources to learners and educators. Alex’s main objective is to inspire students to pursue STEM-related activities to help stimulate creative, innovative, and problem-solving abilities.
Arame Drame (Centre d’Appui à l’initiative Feminine (CAIF) Founder||Senegal)
It’s no secret the exclusion that occurs within certain communities against women, with gender exclusion preventing some women from basic education during their formative years. Arame Ba Drame sought to find a way to help these women by bringing what they knew about vocational skills in a different way. CAIF is a vocational training centre that was founded in 2003 to address that issue.
By providing high quality courses that teach young women important vocational skills, CAIF has been able to help create a means for these women to generate income while boosting their confidence to create work that stands out in the job market. CAIF also focuses on fostering a community that is both beneficial to those looking to hire artisans and the artisans themselves.
One great thing about having these many great innovators on this continent is the inspiration it gives to other aspiring innovative problem solvers, regardless of their sector of interest.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur trying to create a solution to help make real-life breakthroughs, some of our other articles below can help direct your thoughts.
You can also access our free resource: 30+ Grants for African Businesses and Innovations.
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