Sustainable Offgrid Ed-Tech for the Developing World (Completed)

Aim: Utilise technology to support maths teaching and learning in rural secondary schools in Tanzania.

Outcome: Maths learning app successfully developed and tested with student cohort, demonstrating between 10-21% increase in maths ability after only 6 weeks.

Future: Develop more content to support more of the maths curriculum, trial in other countries, and do a longer trial with more students.

This project aimed to create a technical, educational solution to assist with teaching in rural secondary schools within the communities in which SVRG works. It was targeted mainly to teach mathematics in schools in rural Tanzania. The idea for this project arose because improving education was consistently voiced as a high priority by community members. This project was funded by Innovate UK from October 2020 to June 2021.

Fig 1 – Three students playing with education app in rural Tanzanian

Setting the Scene
In order to understand the impact of this project, and why we addressed the challenge in the way that we did, it is important to understand the state of education in Tanzania. The following word cloud demonstrates the most cited reasons for children of school age to not attend school in these communities.

Fig 2 – Wordcloud demonstrating parents’ answers as to why their school-age children were not in school.

SVRG conducted interviews with teachers to understand the main difficulties students face. This revealed that the three main difficulties were:

Fig 3 – The 3 main difficulties identified by Tanzanian teachers in teaching in rural schools.

Our Solution
Our solution to the difficulties that students face is an app which simplifies maths concepts and makes them fun and accessible to Swahili speakers. All content is available in English and Swahili, so students will no longer be held back by language barriers. It can be shared peer-to-peer and used offline, so the poor internet connection which plagues rural locations will not be an issue. We have done extensive research, and have found no other solutions that are available in both languages, offline, and deliver high quality teaching content.

Fig 4 – Screenshots of SVRG’s app

Student Test Scores
In order to test the app with rural Tanzanian secondary school students, SVRG left mobile devices with the app installed with instructions to teachers and students for 6 weeks. SVRG also tested them at the beginning and end of this 6-week period in fractions and geometry to see whether their test scores would improve having used the app. The results are given below, where each bar represents one student. These show that almost every child improved in fractions and geometry, and the average improvement was 10% and 21% respectively for fractions and geometry.

Fig 5 – Graph showing the % difference in fractions grades of students who used the app for 6 weeks.
Fig 6 – Graph showing the % difference in geometry grades of students who used the app for 6 weeks.

Student Feedback
Having used the app for 6 weeks, SVRG interviewed each student to understand how the app could be improved, and what they gained from it. Below is a selection of quotes from some of the students. It was great to see how positive these were, and how much the students who took part hoped that the project would continue and be available to their classmates in the future.

Fig 7 – Quotes from students who had used the app for 6 weeks.

Project Future
The funding cycle for this project ended in June 2021. We are currently looking for further funding opportunities. The next steps of this project will be to:

1. Trial the app in other schools. We have received approval from the District Executive Officer in Simanjiro District, who is enthusiastic to help us trial the app in further locations.
2. Create more content. The students and teachers we interviewed were all keen to expand the app to include further subjects and more in-depth topics.

Fig 8 – A rural Tanzanian school in Terrat

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