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Challenge of an EduTech entrepreneur in Uganda- Awareness — Part One

In this series I will focus on the awareness problem by both the teacher and the parent, very crucial stakeholders in the education of a child.

My brother and I started TODIDEA LTD under which we run Therailsshop, Edutab, Techkids and Mwalimu Tab products.

Therailsshop focusses on 13+ year olds, teaching them web development via our holiday coding clubs.

Edutab is a tablet computer that comes preloaded with audio, text and visual content for kids aged 5+ years targeting primary school kids.

Techkids is a coding club that runs in over 20 primary schools in the Kampala metro area during the school term.

Finally the Mwalimu(Teacher in Swahili) tab is focused on facilitating the teacher integrate Information technology into the classroom.

Everyday we try to execute as effectively as we can so we can offer value to these kids and also run a profitable enterprise. It is not an easy feat, not that we expected it to be, but sometimes one stops and wonders why what we might consider as obvious is not to others.

We leave in a country whose education system needs a complete overhaul. And not to fault the government, they are trying their best to make a change but we still have a long journey. A journey that we hope to help push forward as a company and make whatever dent we can make in our lifetime.

The major challenge that we face is the lack of awareness of the importance of integration of ICTS into our school curriculum by all stakeholders especially in the low income sections of the community. Parents and teachers are very crucial stakeholders here. I will focus on this in this article.

We have a partnership with KCCA- a city council authority in Kampala to run Techkids coding clubs in the schools under their jurisdiction at a very subsidized rate.

We aim to expose as many kids to technology as we can by removing the cost barrier. Even with the subsidized rates we struggle to collect the fees which would help us pay our tutors and handle the basic logistical obligations.

Our coding session at the Innovation Village- tech-hub
Our coding session at the Innovation Village- tech-hub

The higher income sections of the population get the importance of exposing their children to ICTS but we believe that to be able to try to close the income gap we shouldn’t leave any child behind. Talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not. We try to democratize exposure as much as we can.

We mitigate this issue as much as possible by attending parent teacher meetings in the schools so we can explain the benefits of ICTS and we see some improvement.

One of the most effective ways we have managed to employ is organizing sports day challenges. Where winners win an Edutab fully loaded with educational apps and content. At these gatherings we show the parents what the kids are able to do and also manage their expectations.

Some parents and teachers don’t really understand that a child can learn through playing a game for-example. We have had times where our tutors have been castigated for just letting the kids play with gadgets. Gatherings like these help us educate them about the tools we use and the benefits of gamifying education for the kids.

Managing expectations especially of the parent is also a challenge, especially the parents in the high income bracket who have slightly tech survy kids. They believe if the kid can play on their phone and spend a lot of time on it then they must have figured it out all already. So when they bring them to the class they expect the kids to be advanced.

I have had to explain the importance of starting from the basics especially when you are learning concepts of computer science. Our aim is to create a cohort of creators and not just consumers.

Our engagements despite the challenges will continue and TODIDEA will continue to iterate and learn on this journey of digitizing our education.

I will continue to document our challenges and successes on this journey. If you like this article please like it and recommend it to your circles.

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE ON THIS IMPORTANT JOURNEY FOR OUR COUNTRY!

Published inLife hacks

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