In a recently published report, titled The inflection point, entrepreneur support organisation Endeavor Nigeria highlights the potential to introduce digital solutions in Africa’s education sector. Here are insights from the report.
There is a need and opportunity to harness private sector solutions to deliver education for Africa’s young and growing population. Private solutions and investments may also address needs for mid- and low-income families.
In the education sector, Africa has the opportunity to leverage technology to optimise its limited resources and improve on poor outcomes.
- Schools in Africa have a limited number of teachers, and lags compared with other regions.
- School enrolment rates also lag other regions with 34 million out-of-school children on the continent.
- Unsurprisingly, outcomes leave much to be desired. Africa lags other regions in math and reading proficiency.
- Technology offers the opportunity to reach previously underserved populations and improve on outcomes, particularly for lower and middle-income groups.
Though government spend on education in Africa is in line with United Nations guidelines, schools in the region generally have a limited number of teachers and teacher quality is generally lower than other regions. See the below graph:
Mathematics and reading scores in Africa are also substantially lower than other regions, as indicated in the below graph:
There are a variety of products in the edtech space with the majority being in tutoring and e-learning platforms:
uLesson case study
uLesson is a Nigerian edtech platform that leverages teachers, media, and technology to create high-quality, affordable and accessible education for students. uLesson leverages its network of tutors to bridge educational gaps for secondary school students in Nigeria and the broader Africa. The uLesson app offers students in primary and secondary school a holistic learning experience in mathematics, English language, business, sciences, and technology, while also preparing them for school-based, national, and regional examinations.
“We have this massive gap … We’re adding more babies in this country nominally than all of Western Europe … Even if the [Nigerian] government was super efficient, it couldn’t catch up with the educational needs of the young people that are coming up,” commented uLesson CEO and founder Sim Shagaya.
The start-up first launched in 2019 by providing a product pack of SD cards and dongles with pre-recorded videos for K-12 students. The start-up saw growth in user metrics due to the pandemic (up to 600% and 700% growth in paying users and monthly average users, respectively). Next, uLesson began to build a comprehensive edtech platform as it ventured into the online home tutoring business by helping to connect students with tutors from universities and launching live classes.
uLesson managed to create stickiness and ensure growth even as students returned to school (the start-up had become a part of the everyday schooling activities for its users and have half of their subscribers using them in schools). In August 2021, uLesson introduced offline centres to challenge traditional classroom learning and build customised experiences for students. uLesson hopes to create feedback loops between teacher and learner and parent and school that embraces virtuous cycles and feed themselves to the betterment of the educational system.
1. Rich content:
- A vast library of curriculum-relevant lessons for primary and secondary school learners.
- Daily live interactive classes with expert tutors across various subjects and 18,000-plus interactive quizzes and tests with solutions to help students perfect their understanding.
2. Learning analysis dashboard to track progress and monitor performance.