South Africa’s education sector is currently undergoing a digital transformation as more schools are using smartphones and tablets as a learning tool.
Entrepreneurs in the digital space are spearheading the transformation by creating localized mobile learning platforms that address challenges in the education sector.
Zakheni Ngubo is a social entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Blankett Tech, a company that is eliminating barriers that hinder access to quality education and information.
The business does this by using technology to address the shortage of textbooks, internet connectivity, as well as access to resources and digital content.
Using technology to overcome challenges in education sector
Ngubo understands the challenges faced by disadvantaged students because growing up he attended schools in townships and rural areas. “My school going years were filled with limited learning materials and a lack of teachers; this hindered my growth and potential,” he recalled.
The hardships he faced inspired him to create a positive change. After he matriculated, he worked as a teacher, and this gave him an understanding about challenges faced by teachers. Today, his business model is focused on finding solutions to challenges faced by learners and teachers.
South Africa’s education sector is benefitting from the social impact business because the technology allows teachers and students to continue learning anywhere and anytime. Ngubo is determined to make his platforms accessible and affordable. “The offline functionality for low bandwidth areas allows educators and learners to access the zero-rated platforms,” said Ngubo.
Digitals learning resources
We live in a digital world and mobile learning platforms have become a necessity. According to Statista, in 2022, almost 47 million South Africans accessed the internet through various types of mobile devices. In 2027, this figure is projected to amount to almost 58 million mobile internet users from 2022.
Blankett Tech has introduced two progressive digital learning solutions. There is Syafunda Digital Libraries, a platform that uses localized video content (in context and languages), audio, and e-books as a learning tool. It helps learners access quality education from school and home. The platform is for grade 8 to 12 learners and can be accessed through a wireless digital library set up in schools, community centres and libraries.
Another learning platform introduced by the business is Kelo, a digital bookstore that gives students the option to buy new or second-hand books with an option to rent digital textbooks.
The in-app library allows learners to make notes, record audio and even search for information. Users can also connect students from different institutions to share information through a virtual book club.
Positive social impact in disadvantaged communities
The Syafunda platform is currently used by 72 schools, 128 000 students and 2 745 trained teachers across four provinces. All the users have access to video tutorials, assessments, revision papers, discussion forums and even the ability to download content.
Most of the users of the digital learning platforms are in remote areas and this is a life changing opportunity for them. Many students cannot afford to buy textbooks and this social impact business makes it easier for students to access books.
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