With AI technology exploding as a form of aid and disaster relief in developing countries, innovative ways to de-escalate education poverty are underway in Africa’s most vulnerable regions. One of the most prominent issues affecting impoverished African societies is a lack of education. In 2014, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a report stating that “more than 7 in 10 African countries don’t have enough teachers.”Accompanied by a rising population of children who need schooling, Africa as a whole has an 86.1 pupil to qualified teacher ratio. With poverty rife throughout the continent and education prioritized for young children, Africa will require an estimated 17 million teachers by 2030, yet the means to find and educate qualified adults to teach is lacking. So where does AI technology come into play? Two major companies, Daptio and Eneza, are closing the gaps with computer programs and adaptive learning to make AI tutoring in Africa a widespread resource.
After realizing that the University of South Africa only had a 15% annual pass rate, Daptio founder Tabitha Bailey saw a need for full-scale reform. With no human teachers available, Bailey looked to “cloud-based adaptive learning,” an AI classroom software that adapts to the needs of an individual student – almost like the Khan Academy of Africa.
Bailey launched Daptio in 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. Described by its founder as “the first content agnostic adaptive learning platform in Africa,” Daptio is also unique in its partnerships with content creators that provide the learning tools for South African students. Daptio is not just an online learning platform; rather, the software learns the education level and knowledge of the student and gathers content from various creators to best accommodate the student.
The platform is largely structured on video learning, with individual sections for students, teachers and content creators. It also adapts to students who do not have access to stable data connectivity to watch videos.
Eneza and TeachMobile
Based out of Ghana, AI tutoring software Eneza Education has developed a web-based education program that provides on-call teachers for students online. Individual teachers operate TeachMobile but receive aid from AI in similarly assessment-based computer programming. The software is complete with learning materials and lessons for any teachers to access, and the platform similarly assesses a student’s abilities so that it can tailor coursework to their needs.
TeachMobile is also unique in its availability to students. With only one physical teacher available for approximately 86 African students, on-call virtual teachers are available via chat through an Ask-A-Teacher setting. The software is also useful for teachers to connect and share resources with each other via social messaging.
After laying its footing in Ghana, Eneza and TechMobile have expanded to Kenya and the Ivory Coast with plans to keep growing. Over 6 million people have used Eneza since its beginnings, and Eneza’s programs have shown a “23 percent improvement in academic performance after learning with Eneza Education for nine months.”
Effectiveness and Future Plans
Extensive research and study of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) and AI tutoring at the University of Michigan have shown that computer-based, adaptive learning is highly effective. With more patience and time than a normal human teacher, the ITSs can be beneficial to both students and teachers and can more accurately gauge a student’s individual needs.
For now, AI tutoring in Africa is still in its infancy. However, with the beneficial track record of web-based learning laying the foundation for children across the continent, AI tutoring in Africa can hopefully assist in bringing advanced education to impoverished communities across the continent.
– Grace Ganz
Photo: Wikipedia Commons