Education is a topic that is often on the lips of those speaking at the copious African conferences around the world. This, and the many charities and NGOs that are set up to improve African schools, sponsor a child to go through school, or to send young people out to teach in rural schools, could over emphasise a negative issue throughout the continent.
I myself, travelled to Ghana as an 18 year old to “teach”, but when I realised that my teaching abilities were naturally not suitable for teenagers, I changed the mandate of the trip to report back to the small charity that asked me to go on the state of the education system in the region. Whilst there were some issues, what I saw was a group of teachers trying their hardest to teach effectively with limited tools. Back then, in 2002, there were not many options for technology to assist teachers in their jobs, but now, with an explosion of African Innovation, there are options across the continent.
One of such options is Snapplify. Yesterday, 6th of November, they were one of many innovations awarded by the AppsAfrica awards. (We have written about many of the other innovations awarded in two other blogs:
Snapplify provides e-book solutions for schools, with publishers such as Penguin Random House, Pearson, Oxford and Cambridge all signed up to the service to offer their books. Access to books is vital in education. Not just for primary and secondary schools, but at universities. During my time at the University of Ghana studying for my Masters degree (a decade ago), it was very challenging to get my hands on the material for my research. If it wasn’t for access to online journals, I would have struggled.
Using Snapplify, schools, colleges and universities can create a special school branded store, where parents and teachers can buy the relevant material for their syllabus. It is not only parents that can buy books, institutions can purchase in bulk for their students. They have partnered with a number of organisations and governments in order to be able to tailor content depending on the region, and are looking to push outside of Africa. Their system not only makes it easier for students to get their hands on excellent content for the learning, but also to partake in reading for leisure, which is incredibly important for literacy skills.
Institutions can also upload quizzes, class outlines, notes, and other information for their students, which is then easily downloaded using the Snapplify app, and accessed on individual devices. They have created a one stop shop for students to organise their learning and access content to learn from.
There are a plethora of options for anyone that wants access to information in Africa. Information is vitally important to enable Africa’s substantial youth to meet their potential and drive the continent forward. If we want parts of Africa to be hubs for world innovation we need an army of highly skilled and trained individuals to be able to develop ideas for the world.
For this to happen, they need to have access to material so they can not only learn in school, but at home, on the bus, in bed, on the toilet and anywhere else they feel like practicing their skills. And technology like that of Snapplify, Raada, who offer African oriented content, Worldreader, who give children access to books, Or BRCK, who have created a mini server with tablets that can be deployed in rural areas, are creating further opportunities for Africa’s youth.
If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.