Education in many African countries has lagged standards of education on other continents for some time. Underinvestment from local governments as well as many children from lower-income families having to earn a living to help out in their household from a young age are the primary reasons. To increase social mobility and close the income gap that exists on the continent these basic services must be able to reach those most in need so these economies can thrive and fulfill their potential. One company that is utilizing technology to provide a cheaper, more scalable form of education in Nigeria is Slum2School Africa.
Slum2School is a social enterprise which was set up in 2012 by entrepreneur Otto Orondaam. It is a volunteer-driven organization that provides underserved children in slums and remote communities in Lagos, Nigeria with access to quality education, entrepreneurial skills, and psychosocial support to enable them to reach their full potential. This is done through partnerships with government, NGOs, and private companies that donate resources and time. One of Africa’s greatest resources is our human resources and we believe creating access to education can be a critical pillar of success for these communities” says Orondaam.
The organization has built several learning spaces where children can get access to education from one of the many volunteer teachers and, understanding the barriers to gaining an education they also offer food and basic resources for many of these children who are expected to work from a young age. To date, they have supported over 100,000 children across many communities. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year the team realized they needed to set up a digital version of their offering so that these children do not get left behind due to lack of homeschooling.
Expanding Virtual Learning
The team went about setting up a digital classroom with the aim of providing ongoing education to 10,000 children in Nigeria for free. These Virtual classrooms cover subjects such as English, Maths, Verbal Reasoning, and a host of IT lessons to prepare the children for the digital age. The classes are taught in 3 formats:
- Virtual Learning Program: The virtual learning program involves self-paced and collaborative learning modules. Students are provided with digital tablets, internet, active numbers, and headphones set up to support learning.
- Virtual Learning Studio: The virtual learning studio is built to mimic the experience of a classroom with interactive live lessons without requiring the infrastructure of a traditional school, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Cluster Learning Program: Younger learners are engaged in community-based learning clusters within households supervised by a community teacher. Trained community teachers take learners through interactive technology-enabled sessions, through videos and educational games, utilizing globally sound teaching aids from laptops and tablets.
Through this suite of virtual options, the team can provide an engaging classroom-like experience digitally in a much more scalable fashion without requiring the investment in infrastructure required in traditional schools. It costs $277 to provide education for 1 child for an entire year and this includes the cost of the tablet, software, food, and household support. Testament to the great work the team is doing they have received support from several organizations which include Prudential/Zenith, Microsoft, Unilever, and ESPN.
The team intends to continue to use a hybrid of digital and physical education to improve the education and wellbeing of children from slums in Africa “integrating digital learning as a means of educating children from slums and underserved communities have been very important for us at Slum2School Africa and when the COVID-19 pandemic led to the shut down of schools, we were able to launch much faster into the future what we had been gradually preparing” says Orondaam.
Head of Operations, Ruth Ebe mentions “to scale and sustain this program various organizations, individuals, media partners, donors, and corporate institutions across various industries, are invited to join forces with Slum2School Africa in ensuring that these children, especially the most disadvantaged, have access to quality education during the ongoing pandemic and beyond.”
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