Education has always been at the forefront of countries main agenda in terms of achieving development. In the year 2002, the government of Kenya saw a great need for the introduction of free primary education owing to the millions of children who would mostly drop out of school because of financial constraints. With the announcement of free education came a surge of children in schools which had especially made it difficult for teachers to give individualized attention and care to the students.
This inspired a partnership between Safaricom and Eneza education in 2013, which launched a mobile phone based educational platform to reach learners across Kenya. The mobile study tool Shupavu 291 is an educational platform that is accessible on a basic mobile phone and allows learners across the country to access Kenya National Curriculum aligned lessons through short messaging service (SMS).
For only Kshs 10 a week, students can access the curriculum aligned lessons, assessments, “Ask a Teacher” services and Wikipedia as well from anywhere across the country as long as there one has a mobile phone that uses a Safaricom line.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore noted that with an estimated figure of one of out of every three Kenyans having a mobile phone, there is the potential to use the devices to transform lives. He said, “We want to ensure that the same way mobile devices are being used for banking, Kenyan children have access to educational material through mobile devices. Not only will it make learning convenient but also interesting.”
Kago Kagichiri, Eneza Education co-founder said, ”Through Shupavu 291, learners are able to access 8-4-4 aligned lessons, assessments, ask a teacher and Wikipedia services at only Kshs 10 per week. Teachers can also access teacher development courses.”
The mobile phone can now be turned into a virtual school and since the launch of Shupavu 291, at least 572,000 students have since used the mobile service with 469,000 of them being primary students while 86,000 are secondary students.
This makes the Shupavu 291 one of the most affordable platforms to access online education than the purchase of school textbooks and other reading material for students that most of them can’t even afford.
Some of the benefits of the service include:
1. It is a flexible service that is easily accessible at any given time and place given that the student has access to a mobile phone with a Safaricom line. This means that even when school is out, a student can be able to still go ahead with personal revision that boosts their learning capabilities.
2. The service charge for Shupavu 291 is only Kshs 10 per week meaning that for a whole week, a student gets access to unlimited and valuable content that is key to boosting their performance.
3. Shupavu 291 contains multiple services in one key service. These include KCPE and KCSE course content, quizzes, “Ask a Teacher” where a student can get to ask a one on one question with a live teacher and Wikipedia where the student can be able to access information about certain topics.
4. Simplicity: unlike instances where sometimes you have to research through numerous content pages to receive certain information, the Shupavu 291 service provides unlimited information to students via SMS in a format that is easily used and understood by students. It also means that the student does not have to have a smartphone to receive content from the service, any mobile phone with a Safaricom line will do.
5. The content that the service delivers is not only unlimited but is also approved by KICD (Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development)
6. The service is not only limited to primary and secondary students but also includes basic business and development courses, questions and quizzes for adults at the same fee.
To date 3,000 students in Kakuma, over 20,000 students and 378 teachers in Daadab refugee camp have also benefited from the service. This means that despite the current environmental situation, the learning of students does not necessarily have to stop. Shupavu 291 has been designed to create the instant network classroom that is made to answer connectivity, configuration and supply chain issues encountered when implementing a mobile device based education programme in even in remote locations.
The technology will in no way replace the fundamental work that a teacher does in the classroom but will instead supplement and complement the traditional teaching methods. Shupavu also has over 4,000 questions to help pupils prepare for their KCPE examinations.
The power to boost children’s performance in school is now in the hands of the parents, guardians and teachers who have access to mobile phones and can therefore access Shupavu 291. By simply dialing *291# you can register for the service to enjoy unlimited educational content anywhere in the country.