Successfully made prototype of the solar-powered mini-PC digital learning station.
Piloting the solution with students in Kibera slums.
Reaching out to students in need of the digital learning station and access to virtual tuition.
Johnstone Mutua - Co-Founder at Digisomo
Oliver Omondi, Co-founder at Digisomo
According to Usawa May 2020, 82% of children cannot access any form of digital learning in Kenya. This is mainly due to the affordability of digital learning equipment despite the fact that there are numerous digital platforms available after the closure of school due to COVID-19. On March 15, 2020, the Kenyan government abruptly closed schools and colleges nationwide in response to COVID-19, disrupting nearly 17 million learners countrywide. The social and economic costs will not be borne evenly, however, with devastating consequences for marginalized learners. This is especially the case for students in slums and rural areas. Also, many schools cannot afford to install and maintain a computer lab, both due to inadequacy of funds and lack of connection to the grid, this is majorly for children in poor rural and informal areas.
What it does
We lease and maintain solar-powered study mini-computers to individual school children, teachers and computer labs to schools for a monthly fee to help students to access digital content in pay as you go arrangement. Users do not need a huge upfront financial outlay for purchase of computer equipment. Lease to own plan helps training facilitators own their personal laptops and desktops. This will help children access digital education both at home and in schools.
We provide robust mini-computer with massive offline content such as khan academy, Wikipedia, and thousands of offline pre-downloaded classroom content running on a stable virus-free Linux platform. We also provide virtual classes, either pre-recorded or live stream on the internet through our virtual tutors. We provide free offline Kytabu app which has almost all primary and high school Kenya Government accredited curriculum books from grade 1 to form 4. We also provide a subscription to over 15 online learning platforms such as Kusoma, and daily internet bundles to enable students have access to the online content.
The study stations will come with access to a web-based school management system that can also be used for student self-continuous assessment tests and final exams. All the equipment will be insured against fire, theft, and floods. Free preventive and curative maintained servicing and IT product support to all leased equipment. The units come with solar or mains power bank and lights to help study when there is not light e.g. in case of blackout where clean reading light in not available.
For students who cannot afford leasing digital leaning stations, we provide an option of leasing hardcopy textbooks and revision materials that are delivered to users' doorstep.
How we built it
We acquire and equip a full learning station comprised of a study desk, chair, mini desktop computer, solar power system, and a power bank. We have 3 working prototypes and we charge Ksh.50 per day and a total of ksh 1500 per month for the use of the station at home.
Challenges we ran into
Lack of adequate funds to scale our project to reach thousands of students, pupils, teachers, and schools in need of digital learning equipment. Limited marketing and information to potential beneficiaries of our project. Need for an e-commerce platform to enable the wider sale of and distribution of our solution.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Established 3 successful prototypes of solar powered fully equipped digital leaning stations. We acquired the license of the 'Kytabu' offline app which has all most all K.I.C.D accredited textbooks from grade one to form 4. Successfully piloted the solution with 3 students from Kibera slums for 1 month. Participated in the installation of a solar-powered thin client mini desktops computer lab for an organization in Kibera sponsored by Uber.
What we learned
There is high demand for digital learning in Kenya There are numerous online digital learning portals available but most students do not have digital equipment to access them. Parents and students do not have large amount of upfront money required to buy digital equipment but are able to afford monthly fees for use of the equipment. Our solar power backup is vital to ensure uninterrupted learning due to blackouts and where there is no connection to grid. Books and revision materials are also in high demand but parents do not have enough money to buy all books for all their children - leasing of books helps students access all vital books affordably.
What's next for DIGISOMO LEARNING (LEASING DIGITAL STUDY STATIONS AND BOOKS)
Fabricate and equip more digital study stations to meet the demand targeting 10,000 students, 2,000 teachers and 300 schools in rural and urban poor in 3 years time. Acquire and lease K.I.C.D accredited books targeting 20,000 students in 1 year period. Establish a studio for remote support, coordination and virtual teaching. Engagement and training of 10 IT support cum virtual class tutors - to help clients in the installation of units, equipment maintenance, and IT support and conducting virtual classes. Establish help desk stem with hotline, help desk system e.g. team viewer for product support. Establish an e-commerce platform to enable clients to order and purchase or lease digital learning stations and books which will be delivered to their doorstep.