How telco empowers tech start-ups to address education challenges

THE government in collaboration with stakeholders continues to invest in innovative technology to address various challenges affecting the country’s education sector.

Some of the challenges range from inadequate access to learning materials, a gap in digital literacy to poor performance in science subjects as well as inadequacy in the provision of entrepreneurial skills.

It is with this insight that some tech innovative start-ups in the country that are passionate about the education sector made the decision to channel their tech innovative solutions to tackle some of the apparent challenges in the sector.

is being a part of their contribution towards supporting the government in scaling up the education system to greater heights.

The identified innovative tech start-ups in question here are; Shule Yetu, Vijana Tech, Lango Academy and Smart Darasa. As start-ups, these companies are not quite well established entities yet, with some of them in the initial stages of operations and not fully in the market yet.

Due to this, there was a need to support them in realising their potential in order to ensure the intended benefits of their initiatives impact the nation as a whole in the long run.

As a purpose led tech company keen on building a digital society among other things, Vodacom Tanzania plc, has demonstrated its support to these up and coming tech innovators through its Vodacom Digital Accelerator (VDA) programme.

Through this programme, Vodacom has been empowering tech start-up companies whose products are tailored to provide solutions to socio-economic challenges in the country.

The aforementioned innovative start-ups in the education sector are part of the beneficiaries of this programme which Vodacom has partnered with Smart Lab for its delivery.

Through this programme the start-ups receive technical and commercial skills to scale up their businesses.

Funding is also made available to the successful start-ups at the end of each season thus allowing them to fully operationalise their businesses and become profit making.

Speaking of his start-up company and experience in the Vodacom Digital Accelerator programme, Mr William Elia, Founder of Shule Yetu Innovation, a digital education platform created to narrow the education gap in primary and secondary schools by improving the quality of education, said “Most schools in Tanzania still operate under the paperbased mechanism which affects most of the students in their performance.”

Shule Yetu Innovation will give parents access to see academic results by using their phones hence simplifying parents’ involvement in their children’s performance. He further explained that, Shule Yetu simplifies administrative work for teachers and head teachers such as preparing results, attendance, giving out homework, managing school fee payment record thus helping schools to run well resulting from improved efficiencies by 60 per cent.

Speaking of his experience in VDA, he said, “this programme has brought us together connecting with different people, helping us network and overcome challenges and Vodacom has paved the way for us to succeed in the market. We believe that this will help us grow.” Mr Gerald Mukama, Founder of Vijana Tech, a platform that allows users to learn digital skills, sell digital skills, and buy digital products said through the VDA programme he has a better understanding of the market, clientele, and means for customer reach.

“This has helped me to boost my sales and increase our customer base. And this platform gives young people knowledge that helps them financially after they complete their education,” Mr Mukama said adding Vodacom and Smart Lab have given them additional digital skills.

The Lango Academy Founder and CEO, Ms Daisy Kokwenda, said her platform provides the youth with money-making and entrepreneurial skills, “I saw that our education system lacks provision of self-employment skills, that’s where Lango Academy comes in to bridge this gap.

“As a start-up, this training will help us overcome the challenges in the education sector and Vodacom has given us abundant support through this programme,” she said.

Also, the Founder of Smart Darasa, Ms Aginiwe Justice, whose platform assists students to learn science practically, said the platform came into being after seeing NECTA results whereas a large number of students tend to fail science subjects.

If you look at Africa in general, there is a shortage of doctors and engineers. Teachers also find it difficult to teach science subjects. So, by using this technology you can overcome these challenges. Smart Darasa is geared to bridge this gap by allowing students to learn practically in correlation with theory,” she said.

The digital accelerator programme has helped me to learn different techniques on how to start a company and identifying the right business partners.

She saw on Vodacom’s Twitter page that the company donates laptops and computers to schools and her wish was for the Smart Darasa app to be installed in these devices therefore allowing it to reach many schools around the country.

In late September this year, Vodacom in partnership with Smart Lab announced 13 winners of season two of Vodacom Digital Accelerator programme.

The programme aims to give tech innovative start-ups an opportunity to scale up their businesses. Through the programme the start-ups receive trainings from experts, mentorship, and technical skills.

The first season of VDA took place in 2019. Sectors powered by the programme this season include; Fintech, Edutech, Healthtech, Agriculture, Entertainment, Tourism, Cybersecurity and e-commerce.

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