Across Africa, real progress has been made to achieve the goal of free primary education for all. But the challenge is huge and resources limited. Over 40% of children drop out of school before the end of primary school, leaving many unable to read and write. There is a chronic lack of trained teachers, equipment and books that is only going to get worse as the population continues to grow. All children deserve the right to quality education and we need to find new ways of getting that to them.
Mwabu Ischool is helping expand primary school education in Africa through e-learning tablets.
In a continent with 60 students to a teacher each solar powered e-learning tablet helps to educate up to 6 primary school children in an interactive fashion. The Ischool tablets are loaded with each countries primary school curriculums in English and 8 other local languages. With over 5,000 lesson plans – from reading and writing to health and agriculture – Ischool is changing the way children in Africa learn and interact with the world.
The program is used in over 250 schools in remote rural, and high density urban areas, in Zambia, reaching over 200,000 students, and looks to expand into Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, and Ghana over the next several years.
Many of these schools do not have electricity, the buildings are run-down, and windows may be missing. Some are simple mud and thatch structures. Inside the classrooms, there is rarely much besides a chalk board and desks, and the pupils’ own pencils and exercise books; many of the schools using the tablets have no text books.
Children adapt readily to using Mwabu, even where it is clear that those children have had extremely limited access to technology and where preparedness for use of IT at school is almost universally lacking. Even in such extreme circumstances, children have some awareness of technology in the wider world, and are very excited to have an opportunity to use the tablets.
The tablets have improved student engagement, levels of numeracy, literacy and critical thinking, as well as reduced absenteeism among pupils. The information can be accessed anytime, without an internet connection, and the tablets can be used across several classes / grades on the same day.
Besides the tablet and its content, Mwabu has contributed to improved teacher performance. This is most evident where teachers are unqualified, and where few other teaching or learning resources exist. Mwabu provides valuable assistance to teachers handling very large class sizes, providing a structure and tools to support differentiated, active and engaged learning even in classes of over 50 children. In addition the Mwabu Academy trains and supports the teachers who use the program – boosting their ability to deliver quality education with confidence in the classrooms.
Before the introduction of the tablets schools faced many expenses. Teachers often had to buy pens, paper, and books. A pen would run out after a few days but with the introduction of the tablets, a teacher’s pen may now last two weeks. The need for paper and books has been reduced as well.
Suitable for use in difficult environments the tablets have proved robust, and the solar system provides enough charge for tablets to run throughout the school day. The bumpers provide a good level of protection. The most common repair, easily and cheaply undertaken, is to replace the screen. The tablets have an average life-span of three years and the cost of providing both hardware and software content is around $19 per pupil per year (excluding start-up costs, secure storage and the provision of solar equipment where necessary).
For each safari booking Ultimate Africa donates an Ischool tablet to primary school children in Africa.
To learn more please visit https://mwabu.com/international/home/