Around 20,000 low-income students in Lagos, Nigeria, are continuing to learn in spite of schools being closed. They are learning through Roducate, a mobile learning app, which they are accessing on KaiOS phones.
The pupils received the smart feature phones over a week ago, courtesy of the First Bank of Nigeria. The KaiOS devices came with Roducate and a few other useful apps, and an activated MTN SIM card. They are blocked for non-educational uses.
Since then, the teenagers have been going through audio and video lessons, completing assignments, and taking mock exams, all under their teachers’ supervision and without leaving home.
One of the beneficiaries, 15-year-old Sharifa Umar, said in an interview with The Guardian: “I still miss school and being in the class but it [the phone] makes a major difference – it is effective and gives me stability.”
For students like her, who don’t have access to computers or the internet, watching live online classes isn’t possible. Neither is relying on the educational programs being broadcast on national television, since the power supply in remote areas is erratic.
With Roducate-equipped KaiOS phones, Sharifa and other teenagers living in remote locations can learn in their own time and without incurring expenses. Roducate was designed to consume little data and can be used offline. KaiOS devices are known for their long-lasting battery life, and communal solar panels are being installed in the villages they live in to provide additional stability.
So far, the KaiOS-Roducate combo has received positive feedback from teachers and students. Joseph Odusanya, a chemistry school teacher, told The Guardian: “It doesn’t replace the school but it’s a major help.”
The positive reactions have shown the potential for Roducate to continue to be used as a learning tool even after the pandemic. The app was originally designed to enhance in-classroom learning.
Government representatives have asked that private companies donate to the project so that it can benefit more students. The goal is to equip a total of 300,000 pupils with KaiOS phones for learning during and after the pandemic.
The project is led by Robert and John, the research and development company that created Roducate, with support from the Lagos state government and KaiOS.