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African Development: New Partnership Brings SMS-based Learning to Rwandan Students

Posted by Abeiku Ebo on

African Development: New Partnership Brings SMS-based Learning to Rwandan Students

Eneza Education has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to launch an SMS-based learning platform in Rwanda. The platform will enable students to remain engaged in their studies while waiting for schools to re-open. It will also be used as a revision tool by students to supplement what they learn at school.

The launch of the Shupavu in Rwanda is part of the Mastercard Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, which has two main goals. First, to deliver emergency support for health workers, first responders, and students. Second, to strengthen the diverse institutions that are the first line of defense against the social and economic aftermath of this disease.

The SMS platform will provide access to the ‘Ask a Teacher’ feature where students can ask questions to a pool of teachers and receive responses via SMS short-code 2910 on the MTN network. On the 1st of November, they will also be able to access lessons and quizzes aligned to the Rwandan curriculum via the same short code. The service will be free to students in Upper Primary and Lower Secondary till 31st July 2021. Students will register with their ID number used for accessing REB e-Learning.

“Our Shupavu platform digitizes the local curriculum and makes it available to any mobile phone, however basic. We have had the privilege of serving millions of learners in Kenya, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire and we look forward to serving millions of Rwandese learners too. We hope learners in Rwanda will find our ‘Ask A Teacher’ platform, which will be linked to REB eLearning, to be a valuable study companion at this time,” said Wambura Kimunyu, Eneza Education CEO.

Since mid-March, 3,161,990 students in Primary and Secondary school are currently out of school in Rwanda as part of the social distancing measures that have been put in place by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  With uncertainty prevailing about when schools will be able to reopen again, we are faced with a spectrum of children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds falling even further behind in their studies when compared to their peers.

We leveraged the most widely available tools and technologies to support continued learning for those who would otherwise be left behind. Our aim is to complement lessons being broadcast via Radio to students by the Rwanda Education Board.

“While many educational technologies rely on an internet connection, Eneza is fairly unique in its focus on enabling learning via SMS with no data or connectivity requirement. This makes it accessible to the majority of households, including the most vulnerable. We’ve seen how impactful this model has been in Kenya and other countries, and look forward to seeing it support thousands, if not more, of young Rwandans,” said Rica Rwigamba, Country Head, Rwanda at the Mastercard Foundation.

“Since the pandemic began, we have launched several initiatives, including TV and Radio airing lessons, to ensure that students continue to learn while at home. Using low-tech is key to ensuring wide access. Ongoing TV and Radio lessons will be complemented by Eneza education’s SMS-based platform by adding interaction between teachers and students. Furthermore, SMS-based lessons and assessment delivery will support our e-Learning to reach as many students as possible,” said Christine Niyizamwiyitira, Head of Department of ICT in Education at Rwanda Education Board.

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