Rwanda: SMS Based Learning Debuts in the Country

Primary and secondary school students in Rwanda can now learn via .SMS based platform launched by Eneza Education, an education technology company.

In the 1st phase starting today, students will get to ask questions to a pool of teachers and receive responses while in phase 2 launching in November, students will access lessons and quizzes aligned to the Rwanda curriculum.

Eneza Education is an education technology company founded in 2013 that provides learning and revision materials via any kind of phone and currently operational in Kenya, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

The firm has partnered with Mastercard Foundation to launch an SMS based learning platform, Shupavu, in Rwanda that will enable students to remain engaged with their studies while waiting for schools to re-open and also enable revision from home when schools re-open.

The launch of Shupavu in Rwanda is part of Mastercard Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program which has two main goals.

The programme aims at delivering emergency support for health workers, first responders, and students as well as strengthening 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 shortcode 2910 on the MTN network.

Starting November 1, learners will also be able to access lessons and quizzes aligned to the Rwandan curriculum via the same shortcode. The service will be free to students in Upper Primary and Lower Secondary till 31st July 2021.

Students will register using their identification number used when accessing Rwanda Education Board (REB) eLearning platform.

Wambura Kimunyu, the Chief Executive at Eneza Education said that the platform is available on any mobile phone however basic and is linked to e-learning platforms by REB.

“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 Cote d’Ivoire and we look forward to serving millions of Rwandan learners too. We hope learners in Rwanda will find our ‘Ask A Teacher’ Platform that will be linked to REB eLearning to be a valuable study companion at this time,” Kimunyu said.

Since mid-March, over 3 Million students in Primary and Secondary school have been currently out of school in Rwanda as part of social distancing measures put in place by the government to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

With uncertainty prevailing about when schools will be able to reopen again, the platform is geared at ensuring economically disadvantaged backgrounds falling even further behind their peers in their learning.

The intervention has leveraged the most widely available tools and technologies to support continued learning for those who would otherwise be left behind complementing lessons being broadcast via Radio by the REB to students.

Rica Rwigamba, Mastercard Foundation Country Head in Rwanda the approach to use SMS as opposed to data or connectivity aims to make it accessible to the majority of households including the most vulnerable.

“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 Rwigamba.

Christine Niyizamwiyitira, Head of Department of ICT in Education at Rwanda Education Board said that the new platform will complement other initiatives such as TV and Radio lessons.

“Using low-tech is key to ensure 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 eLearning to reach as many students as possible,” said Niyizamwiyitira.

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