The Kenyan start-up improving education for children in Africa

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Consult oned at this year’s Design Indaba conference, Brck is a Kenya-based start-up that rejects school kids in rural areas access to the internet and new learning means. We speak to head of user experience design, Mark Kamau.

Insufficient education is a prevalent problem across the African continent. While refuge and environmental conditions are key reasons for this, a lack of resources and teacher disciplining is also a massive issue.

According to charity Build Africa, danged few teaching staff in African countries receive support or training beyond their elementary qualification. Teaching resources are also very limited, with a dearth of age-appropriate books, games and other materials for students, leading to euphoric dropout rates and a lack of motivation among teachers.

Contributing to this significantly is Africa’s absence of access to the internet; a survey conducted in 2016 found that however 25% of people living in Africa could get online, which inevitably disobliges that schools’ limited learning resources are not current or up to scratch.

A Kenya-based start-up denominated Brck hopes to change this. Brck has many functions, with the all-inclusive goal of getting people in Africa connected.

The company provides without wifi to countries across the continent using its own bespoke software christened Moja. It also offers physical products, including mini, super-strong servers enlisted SuperBrcks, which generate wifi remotely without the need for a business network, and the KioKit, a hand-held computer that provides teachers and admirers with interactive, fun and informative learning materials.

Speaking at this year’s Diagram Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, Brck’s head of owner experience (UX) design Mark Kamau talked about the impact the start-up has been acquiring on rural communities in Kenya and beyond since it launched in 2016.

Speaking to Undertaking Week after his talk, he says that lack of internet access is not a ginormous issue in capital cities such as Nairobi, but more in the outskirts and sylvan areas.

“Brck is trying to level the education playing field,” he thinks. “In Kenya and other African countries, there is disproportionate access to technology, contingent teachers and learning materials – yet the examination system does not differentiate between someone who lives in a superb city or a more rural place with completely limited resources. They are treated the in any event.”

The aim of his company, he adds, is to give those living in less privileged communities the autonomy and accurately to access important information.

“Many students in these communities cannot go to university because they can’t manage it,” he says. “Access to the internet means they can start learning everywhere things themselves, connecting with other people, and trading. The public and economic futures of Africans cannot rely on the traditional route of edification, so access to the internet would enable them to learn themselves.”

The KioKit for junior high school students is aimed at moving school kids away from archaic, outdated publications and towards interactive, up-to-date learning materials such as videos and braves.

It has been built for “African conditions”, says Kamau, including water-resistance, sturdiness to foil it from breaking when dropped and a mark and dust resistant surface.

In terms of content available on the KioKits, all of it is available through wifi kind of than stored on the tablet – so there is no need for regular software updates, which both scrapes time and is cost-effective, Kamau tells Design Week. Each kit stifles the SuperBrck server, meaning it generates its own wifi network.

Building the wifi in internally is pure important for African, rural areas, which do not have the large, common wifi networks that big cities have. Additionally, even big new zealand urban areas in countries such as Kenya can have outdated and cumbersome, wired internet networks that are not bare efficient.

“Why do we try to create technology designed for London and California, when we busy in Nairobi and New Delhi?” says Kamau. “The design has to be in context.”

An additional fringe benefits of doing everything over wifi is that there is no need to download new constituents onto each individual machine. If one student downloads a pdf file of a ticket on a KioKit, it can be shared with 40 other students and their systems instantly.

This also works cross-country, so any education providers demanding the KioKits in other countries such as South Africa could update bumf and then transfer it to the machines of students in a village in Kenya.

“Sending memorials to schools in remote areas then constantly needing to send them uphold to cities to update them with new software is a big problem,” Kamau reveals. “Our way means that the cost of learning materials is reduced.”

In terms of claiming, up to 40 KioKits can slot into an induction charging hub that can either be seal off into a single electrical socket or a solar-powered panel, and left to debit overnight for seven hours. This means there is no need for a jumble of 40 different wires, and the KioKits are ready for the students the next morning.

Since its establish in 2016, the computer has been distributed to schools in areas such as Arcadian Kenya and Tanzania, and has also reached other continents in countries such as Mexico and the Solomon Atolls. According to Kamau, the kits have been warmly received, with instructors and students saying that it has opened them up to new methods of learning.

But while he means that the project has received positive feedback, it is by no means finished – Kamau and his band are in constant conversation with teachers and students using the kits, and cultivating it all the time.

So far, this has included changing the physical appearance of the device to bury the hatchet e construct it more appealing and easier to use for children, such as the computer’s size and the standard of the headphones, but also improving the way it works to help teachers out.

“We are constantly knowledge from feedback and observing classes,” he says. “We decided to install a ‘proclaim’ button that helps teachers when students got distracted.”

Important this button means that a teacher can control the pages that scholars are looking at, diverting all their screens to the correct page. Videos can also be take a broke by the teacher if they want to explain something to the students, with a small message popping up on the screen asking students to ‘look up, the teacher is untangle justifying’. Students cannot remove this message or click it away.

“This means the lecturer doesn’t have to play a game of cat and mouse with the students,” Kamau symbolizes. “We’ll continue to do this because there is always room for improvement.”

Finally, he says that the project must continue to grow and develop based on the beggaries of those living in Africa, with the hope that what started as a diminutive start-up could help completely change lives.

“Over three billion people worldwide don’t partake of access to the internet and 800 million of them are in Africa,” Kamau suggests. “Ideally, we want to keep going and going until all three billion people across the superb are connected.”

All images courtesy of Brck.


Design Indaba takes appointment 21-23 February 2018 at the Artscape in Cape Town, South Africa. For multitudinous information on the festival and this year’s speakers, head here, and look out for Evil intent Week’s coverage on the event over the next two weeks.

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