One can no longer say which part of life has been most affected by the absolute chaos that COVID-19 has visited upon the world. Work, business and trade, transport, tourism, healthcare, and just about everything we knew about our social lives. It feels like centuries since we could freely meet our friends and even family and just be human beings together.
For purposes of this article though, we are going to talk about the education sector which has taken such a major hit as kids continue staying at home with no solid foreseeable way forward in the situation.
Ever since any of us was born, kids have always just woken up, gotten ready and gone to school. School has been so tightly woven into the social fabric that I doubt anyone ever envisioned a time when learners would stay home almost indefinitely. Yes, I know that there are areas in the country where this is not as easy due to issues like poverty, insecurity and harsh weather conditions. But those too always manage to find a way to have their future generations go and get as much learning as their circumstances allow. Bless them.
If we could talk of any positive effects of this whole 2020 and the pandemic, it is that we are living in an age where technology is doing quite a bit for humankind. That is how we have services like Eneza Education which has always come through in a big way, and more-so now to enable e-learning. Eneza Education is the Ed-Tech company that is behind Shupavu291 – an SMS based learning platform where Primary school kids from class 4 to 8 in and those in Secondary school from Form 1 to 4 can be able to access learning materials remotely.
For the past seven years, Eneza has always had a really good relationship with Safaricom and with the shutting down of schools in March this year, the two companies with a mutual interest in improving education started talks on how they could form specific partnerships to assist learners continue accessing education during school. There is a lot to the partnership of course but in a nutshell, Eneza provides the learning materials and Safaricom zero rates access on the same so that students without economic muscle are not left behind. This way Eneza Education materials are accessible for free via the daily 100MB education bundle available on *544#. Learners can also access content and ask a teacher via SMS by dialing *291# or sending the word LEARN to 20851.
As at now, the results of this partnership are nothing short of outstanding. With the help of Safaricom through zero rating of services, Shupavu291 has seen a 30.6% increase in unique visitors, 136.4% increase in subscribers, 496% increase in daily users and 164.6% increase in daily Ask A Teacher questions.
What struck me as an impressive step towards leaving no student behind is the fact that majority of the students are accessing education without necessarily having internet enabled phones. This kind of inclusion is a huge relief for parents who are not able to afford gadgets. It also falls right withing Safaricom’s strategy of empowering the lives of their customers through education and health.