A Kenyan app has won an award at what is billed as the ‘Oscars’ of the mobile phone industry, further cementing the country’s position as an African innovation powerhouse.
Shupavu 291, which was developed by Eneza Education in collaboration with Safaricom, won in the Best Mobile Invention for Education category at the Global Mobile Awards (GLOMO) 2018.
The app is an educational tool for primary and secondary school students that enables access to Kenya National Curriculum lessons and assessments. It was launched about four years ago to provide students with bite-sized lessons as well as offer teachers training programmes for pupils interested in using the application.
Used by about 1.5 million students and teachers, Shupavu 291 allows learners to take revision courses in all subjects contained in the national curriculum, chat in live classrooms and measure performance against each other through quizzes in real time.
One of the most popular features on the App is Ask a Teacher, which lets students engage a teacher while away from the classroom. This feature is very active during the term. Its popularity however explodes during school holidays, with up to 5,000 requests daily on both the primary and secondary school sections.
Interestingly, during the holiday period, when there is no pressure to pass exams, there is also an increase in the number of students asking questions about careers, sex, pregnancy, how to avoid early marriage, and so on. Many learners are afraid to ask these questions while class is in session, either because the topics are not adequately covered in the syllabus or they are too shy to do so in public. So they find solace in anonymity, and feel more confident asking for an adult’s guidance when they don’t have to do it face to face.
Describing Shupavu 291, the judges said: “A remarkably accessible innovation with broad reach, this affordable service is proving that effective mobile services can have a hugely positive impact on education levels.”
Shupavu?291 is accessed?through the short code *291#, and in addition to providing unlimited tutorials to students and teacher development courses, allows parents to access a basic business course. App usage is charged at KES 10 per week, making it within reach of many low-income families.
Safaricom and Eneza Education for Shupavu 291 were in tight competition with other world-renowned nominees such as Ericsson with UNESCO, UK-DFID, Qualcomm and other partners for Connect to Learn (Myanmar). From India, there was Bombay Natural History Society and Accenture for Internet of Birds, and Paltel Group for Empowering E-Learning from Pakistan. Turk Telekom for Project Sunshine Games from Turkey was also a contender.
Eneza Education has rolled out its Math, English and Science lessons to 10 other African countries, and hopes to reach all 54 countries on the continent in the next three years as it invests and reinvests resources to educate more low-income earners.
During the GLOMOs, nnumerous technologies and devices are honoured and recognised, from mobile phone applications for health and education to wearable technology and groundbreaking software.
“The GLOMOs recognise the best of the best in mobile, highlighting the technologies, products, companies and individuals that are pushing the boundaries of ingenuity and innovation and creating a better future for all of us. We thank all of our entrants, judges, sponsors and partners for supporting the 2018 GLOMOs,” said Michael O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer, GSMA.