Of all the regions in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa has the worst rate of education exclusion—more than one-fifth of children aged 6-11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between 11-14 (UNESCO). According to the Brookings Institution, 61 million African children will reach adolescence lacking even the most basic literacy and numeracy skills.
The success of the African continent lies to a large degree in its ability to hone the skills of its ever-growing youth population. Given the educational challenges, we’ve seen a surge of Education Technology firms springing up to fix this problem.
While most Ed-Tech startups approach the problem by trying to democratize access to quality content in the form of ebooks, video lessons, preparatory testing, etc. We’ve seen a new startup emerge that is taking a different approach.
UNESCO recommends that teachers spend up to 70% of their time in front of students and at most 30% of their time on administrative duties. In Nigeria, and indeed most parts of Africa, the average teacher spends more than 50% of their time on paperwork like taking attendance and scoring assessments.
While it is govt. mandated for schools to collect some data, there is little regulation that prescribes what should be done with collected data. So we see situations where schools spend so much collecting data but do nothing with the data they collect because it is tedious to run statistical analysis on paper records.
This is where BlueBic, a cloud based School Management Software, has decided to pitch its tent. BlueBic’s CEO, Favourite Onwuemene, a Stanford trained computer security expert, says teachers are the most important piece to fixing African education:
“I am optimistic about the power that technology provides us in terms of being able to capture knowledge from the best teachers across the world and distribute to communities that lack access to teachers as experienced, but ultimately, studies by reputable institutions like the Khan Academy, show that most learners require the guidance of a teacher to learn effectively.
A major challenge facing African Teachers today is the problem of workload. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that teachers work an average of 53 hours a week, and around 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. Only 43 percent of that time is spent teaching, the rest is used for non-teaching activities like administrative paperwork.
Schools could benefit from teachers having more time for professional development and teaching. Students perform 10% better for every 30 additional daily-minutes teachers spend with them. This means that a 30% reduction in paperwork could lead to an overall 40% improvement in student outcomes.
There is also the massive improvement that could be gained by leveraging the collected data to do things like proactively identify at-risk students, generate different statistical reports that improve decision making, amongst many others”
We also do a lot to improve parent engagement in their kids’ education as studies show a positive correlation between parental involvement and academic achievement, improved self-esteem, retention, and attendance rates.”
“Digital record keeping is still at the pioneer stage for African schools”, says BlueBic’s head of Customer Success, Mr. Chukwuyem Obima. “Our immediate focus is on forward thinking schools, the fore-runners that influence other schools. These are the schools that will lead the way, with time others will follow.
BlueBic has attracted foreign partners like Injini, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), and Amazon Web Services (AWS) amongst others. AWS, for instance, covers the cost of BlueBic’s infrastructure to enable them to offer their services at a lower cost to African schools.
BlueBic can be reached via their website ‒ www.bluebic.com