Series V

EdTech in Africa, for Africa

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With an influx of new learning models available and the introduction of mobile phones and tablets as academic tools, traditional educational methods are bound to evolve in the next decade. Educators around the world are now incorporating technology into their delivery strategies. It is a rapidly developing sector with enormous potential because on a continent where 30 million children miss out on primary school education yet there is 73% mobile phone penetration, there is little question that the fusing of technology with education in Africa has the potential to expand the educational horizons of millions.

One of the major strengths of EdTech is that it can be tailored to meet the different needs of learners. It can be used to amplify and enrich teaching and learning in the classroom. It also enables the exploration of fresh approaches to enhance learning, such as learning through gamification like Teseem (VP C1) does.

New technologies like AI, machine learning, and educational software aren’t just changing the field for students, they are overturning the role of educators, creating shifts in approaches to teaching and learning, and remodeling the classroom.

With the possibilities it offers for independent learning, EdTech has specific relevance for Africa, where it is becoming one of the biggest and most important developing educational markets. Using education technology in teaching and learning is a way of thinking differently and increasing opportunity.

In getting EdTech right for Africa, it is critical to ask: what should learning look like today and how can technology create more efficient institutions?

Understanding the realities and complexities of education in Africa, it is imperative that the edtech community interrogate the problems they aim to address, center the solution to the local context, and look towards outcomes as a measure of impact.

To successfully do the above, EdTech startups should:

  1. Build with mobile in mind: Africa boasts nearly 700M mobile subscribers, equivalent to 60% of the continent’s population; 300K of whom utilize the mobile internet. Mobile learning makes equitable access to education possible, reaching the masses, the excluded, and the marginalized.
  2. Localize their solution: There exists an inadequacy of platforms which support local languages, particularly for younger audiences. While evidence on the benefits of mother-tongue instruction is strong, half of all children in low and middle-income countries are not taught in a language they speak. Contextualizing your solution to focus on local languages, while not a must, certainly differentiates your value proposition.
  3. Get educators involved: Whether instructor-led feedback or teacher empowerment through the promotion of professional development and digital literacy, educators are critical to ensuring buy-in and continued success. Engage and empower them.
  4. Find opportunity in the delivery of data management and assessment tools: Through data, institutions are empowered to promote better decision making, to realize and implement personalized learning, and to monitor key learning indicators on what works in education and how to scale such efforts.

EdTech, while burgeoning and accounting for only 5% of total impact investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, has great potential for impact. In the next decade, we will see education platforms that allow learners to create their own personalized path, enabling them to think critically and creatively.

Technology has democratized access to information as well as reduce the cost of knowledge. Education will no longer be about getting knowledge but about validation and acquisition of specific skills. So, the demand for a new type of education platform — quality and mode of delivery — will drive change, as well as the reduced cost of building such platforms.

We are deeply interested in education because it promotes critical thinking and as a result influences society. We encourage founders with Education ideas to apply.

What we are reading:

  1. Venture Deals by Brad Feld — The team decided on this book for March and April and by the end of this month, we will share our thoughts and learnings in a blog post and our Twitter.
  2. How to prove your market is “Big enough” to VCs — Link
  3. The Middle-Class Conundrum in Africa — Link
  4. Realities, attributes, and coping tips for any company, startup to bigco, performance review system — Link
  5. How Warby Parker disrupted the eyewear industry — Link

Have a great day!

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