With schools closed, more students turn to texts

Through SMS, students across the country are accessing educational material on the content platform Shupavu291 and keeping up with their studies while at home

23 Apr 2020 . 1,473 Views

Learning by SMS has increased by up to 400 percent as students across the country subscribe to Eneza Education’s Shupavu291 platform to keep up with studies from the safety of their homes.

The sharp increase in the usage of the SMS platform has come about since Eneza partnered with Safaricom to offer students in primary and secondary schools access to the content platform for free.

“We have had an increase in daily subscriptions since schools closed from about 2,000 a day to over 10,000, with the peak at 60,443 subscriptions with the launch of free Shupavu291. As of 19th March 2020, we had over 900,000 subscribed users. Over 200,000 students take at least one lesson every day on Shupavu291. We have seen that subscribed learners use the platform at least 3 times a week,” said Joan Njogu, an executive at Eneza Education.

With Safaricom’s wide network, Eneza are able to reach any learner, rural or urban, so that they can keep up with studies while awaiting the resolution of the current crisis.

The platform can be accessed via USSD *291# or the short code 20851.

“The beauty of our proposition is that it runs on SMS. Official statistics show that 91 percent of adults in Kenya own a phone. That means almost every home and therefore nearly all learners are virtually covered by our reach whether they are in Nairobi, Kilifi or Mandera,” said Ms Njogu.

With their content delivered via SMS, which does not require an internet connection, more students would be encouraged to dip into this pot of knowledge and sharpen their minds during these times.

Eneza Education partnered with Safaricom to give the service for free in response to the shutting down of schools to battle the spread of coronavirus. The platform is free from April 2 to May 31.

Under this arrangement, students from Class 4 to Form 4 can access learning and revision content on the SMS-based Shupavu291 free of charge.

“These are difficult times for our country and the world at large and as a company, we are constantly looking at ways of being present for our customers. Through this initiative, we want to ensure that all students can access educational content, whether through feature phones or smartphones and keep up with their studies for the time they will be at home,” said Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO.

In addition, they can use the ‘Ask A Teacher’ feature to ask questions and receive near real-time answers from teachers.

Through the platform, learners of different abilities can now study any topic from different subjects and track their performance. Highly qualified teachers and experts design and create content for Class 4 to Form 4 (Ages 9 to 18), teachers and adults.

The revision content is aligned to the Kenyan 8-4-4 curriculum. Learners can also chat with live teachers and ask them any academic questions from 8 am to 9 pm every day.

Eneza was founded in 2012 and went into partnership with Safaricom in 2013, initially delivering content for Class 7 and Class 8 students.

“We got a lot of feedback from parents who wanted content for other classes. We then developed primary content for classes 4 to 6 and for secondary school classes. Currently, primary and secondary school students have access to more than 9,000 lessons and 900 revision papers developed for their benefit,” said Ms. Njogu.

To date, at least 5.5 million students have accessed it. In 2019 alone, Shupavu291 saw 6.2 million quizzes taken and more than 1 million questions asked on the Ask-A-Teacher platform.

“At Eneza, we are committed to ensuring that learning does not stop by providing access to learning and revision materials to any device however basic. Our learning platform Shupavu291 is a virtual tutor that provides comprehensive and quality revision materials via SMS and Web,” said Ms. Njogu.

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