Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi, the winner of the Global Teacher Price 2019 who has spoken passionately about how he uses mobile phone technology to reach students during the pandemic, today praised AprendiZap as the kind of innovative solution that can help African children without home computers access learning materials during the COVID pandemic.
AprendiZap, which was developed through a partnership between the Lemann Foundation, Brazil's leading not-for-profit education organization, Imaginable Futures and 1Bi Foundation, has brought remote learning materials to nearly 150,000 children in Brazil during the COVID pandemic via the country's most popular app, WhatsApp.
The free learning platform enables interactive access to a weekly study plan with content and activities created by expert teachers for students in grades 6-9 in quarantine. With even basic mobile plans in Brazil granting unlimited data access to WhatsApp, this has proven to be critical means of reaching some of the country's most deprived children, and is reflected in the 135% increase in AprendiZap users accessing the tool over the past six months.
250 million primary and secondary school children in Africa are out of school due to COVID restrictions, with many living in remote rural locations. With 89% of Africans not having access to a home computer, and 74% of web traffic being generated via smartphones, Peter Tabichi believes this kind of WhatsApp-based solution from Brazil could work here to keep the most disadvantaged children learning.
Peter Tabichi, who keeps a keen eye on international technology developments that might boost educational outcomes for all children in Africa, said:
"WhatsApp has been an invaluable tool for me to ensure my students, many of whom are from poor backgrounds and lack access to a computer, can learn remotely during the pandemic. Therefore, I was really excited to hear about AprendiZap's success in Brazil. This kind of scalable solution could really help transform remote education for some of the poorest children in Africa and give them access to essential learning materials.
"It is these kinds of innovative tech solutions and co-operative partnerships, backed by strong evidence of their effectiveness, that can really make big breakthroughs at such a perilous time for global education. I hope foundations across our continent will look at what has been delivered in Brazil as they develop their own bold plans to help children in Africa, where a similar digital divideexists."
Denis Mizne, CEO of the Lemann Foundation, said:
"We are keen to share our best practices and the lessons we've learned from AprendiZap with foundations that work in Africawho are looking to take similar initiatives forward.
"With so many schools throughout the world still closed, or at risk of further lockdowns, it is crucial that we find innovative ways to connect teachers and students when they are not able to interact face to face. I hope lessons from such partnerships can be learnt in every corner of the world, especially where young people don't have access to a computer.
"At the Lemann Foundation we appreciate that there is no single solution capable of serving 100 per cent of students. That is why we work tirelessly with a variety of partners, across a number of platforms, looking hard at the evidence, to design and implement projects to reach the greatest number of students possible".