Africell and Eneza Education are piloting TeachMi, a digital tool which expands access to primary and secondary education in Sierra Leone.
TeachMi is a subscription-based educational content platform. Created by Africell, Sierra Leone’s leading telecommunications operator, and Eneza Education, a Kenya-based ed-tech startup, TeachMi offers lessons, quizzes and live teacher interaction to participating students through a simple SMS-led system.
Sierra Leone has mobile penetration of 92% and a mobile data penetration rate of 28%. This means that most mobile users in the country don’t use data services and still rely on traditional mobile operator products such as SMS. The fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal is to promote literacy and make quality education universal. TeachMi advances this ambition in Sierra Leone by using a common, familiar and low-cost technology – SMS – to integrate digital learning into the everyday routines of young people.
“Education is a basic social good with positive implications for economic growth and social development,” says Shadi Gerjawi, CEO of Africell Sierra Leone. “Students in Sierra Leone increasingly have access to mobile phones so it makes sense to help students learn through their mobiles. The TeachMi tool is smart because it is compatible with all device types, giving it the widest possible reach. The launch of TeachMi is a big step forward in the digitisation of education in Sierra Leone”.
Digital tools are proven to be an effective aid to learning. Students who use SMS-led teaching systems can achieve up to a 20% improvement in academic performance after just a single school year. According to Save the Children, COVID-19 badly disrupted education in West and Central Africa, with 69% of students “learning very little while at home” and almost fifty percent lacking any home learning materials.
“TeachMi arrives at a moment when the need for flexible, low-cost learning solutions in sub-Saharan Africa has never been greater”, says Benjamin Okoro, Finance and Strategy Associate at Africell Group, which hopes to pilot services similar to teachMi in other operating markets. “The launch of TeachMi in Sierra Leone gives students a resource to help make up ground and provides a solution in the event of future restrictions on physical school attendance.”
Wambura Kimunyu, CEO of Eneza Education, is excited that the benefits their platform has brought to students in Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast are now open to students in Sierra Leone.
“Modern education must blend contemporary and traditional methods. In sub-Saharan Africa, where mobile devices are widespread, it makes sense to deliver education through a technology that millions of children have access to anyway. TeachMi is well-suited to Sierra Leone and we are confident that thanks to our boundary-pushing collaboration with Africell, it will enrich the learning of school students across the country”.
TeachMi also supports employment for Sierra Leonean professionals. Teachers are needed to design lessons, respond to students and assess the impact of the programme. “Our aim is to broaden access to quality education, bring in innovative teaching techniques and bridge the gap in education caused by social and economic inequality,” says Josephine Saidu, CEO of Teach for Sierra Leone, a TeachMi partner. “We are happy to be involved in the project because we believe TeachMi helps to realise this underlying ambition.”
In addition to supporting a core aim of the current administration, which is to widen access to quality education, the launch of TeachMi in Sierra Leone boosts the government’s long-term strategy to digitise more social services and economic sectors.
“TeachMi is the outcome of a tie-up between two forward thinking technology firms, working in collaboration with a solution driven education partner”, says Conrad Sackey, Chair of the Teaching Service Commission for Sierra Leone. . “This initiative is consistent with our vision for a better educated and more connected Sierra Leone. We are pleased to be working with Africell, Eneza Education and educational bodies like Teach for Sierra Leone in this creative use of mobile technology to enhance Sierra Leone’s long-standing reputation as a beacon for learning in West Africa”.
 Africell estimate
 UN: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal4
 Eneza Education historical data
 Save the Children: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/document/impact-covid-19-children-west-and-central-africa-learning-2020/