Getting ready for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams is a trying time for most students in Nairobi. A lot is at stake and with overcrowded classrooms and scarce resources there is no time for special attention for those kids who struggle with the curriculum. This is the problem that Nairobi based tech company, MPrep, is trying to solve.
providing quizzes through the mobile phone based on Standard 7 and 8 curriculums, they are trying to give the students extra opportunities to prepare for their final exams. “Given that millions of people have mobile phones, MPrep therefore potentially serves as an educational equalizer to millions of kids,” says Kago Kagichiri, Chief Technology Officer at MPrep. The program’s content is developed in collaboration with a large group of teachers to ensure the questions adequately prepare the kids for the real exams.
Through the short code 8512, pupils can receive sets of quizzes consisting of five questions in Maths, English, Kiswahili, Social Studies or Science. Each quiz is charged at three shillings and all responses are back together with an explanation of why an answer is right or wrong. And the approach seems to be working. “I save the KES 40 my mum gives me each week so that I can [use] MPrep on Sundays. It is the same as what we learn in class,” says Linet, a pupil at M.M. Chandaria Primary School in Baba Dogo industrial area. Whenever the pupils receive their final score in each quiz, they are told how they rank in their school and city.
This creates an incentive for them to do better. “I just love to use the mobile phone to revise. It’s fun. And I compete with my friend Elizabeth,” adds Linet. Although the mission is to make a difference for millions of kids, MPrep still has some way to go. With 6000 users in Kenya and roughly of half of them from schools in Nairobi, MPrep is slowly making some headway. Kago says, “Currently we have over 325 schools and we look to grow the number of students to 20,000 by the end of the year.” And there is definitely a need for some extra help, especially for those kids who attend some of the most crowded public schools.
According to the Kenya Open Data Initiative, it is the norm for primary school teachers in Nairobi to be teaching more than 45 students per class and at schools like Eastleigh Airport Primary School and St. Johns Kaloleni Primary School, teachers have to tackle over 250 pupils per class. So for those students who need some extra tutoring, it is only a text message away.
By Jakob Nielsen