Syafunda: The digital learning platform changing the face of Africa

Access to information on the part of students is very important. In South Africa, a digital learning platform called Syafunda is recording some measurable success in providing digital content to students through mobile technology.

Founded by Zakheni Ngubo, who is also the Senior Managing Partner, Syafunda aims at using solid business principles to find a viable and sustainable solution to challenges facing the South African education system. It helps children access educational material and especially those with limited access to information and other resources.

Zakheni Ngubo, who is a Mandela Washington Fellow and a Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship alumnus, also aims at improving the low math and science grades that South African students are victims to due to lack of adequate learning material. Moved with intense passion from his learning experience in Umlazi where there was limited access to educational material, he came up with a greater resolve to address the problems bedeviling the South African education sector.

Ngubo did not have a mathematics teacher during his final two years in school. This meant that he did not have a teacher in grade 11 and 12 who could help him produce good marks in the subject. He obtained five distinctions, but could not gain admission to university due to his poor mathematics marks. It was only when he upgraded his results that he was admitted at the University of Cape Town.

Syafunda Digital Libraries have been set up in schools, community centres and municipal libraries. Pre-loaded with premium digital educational content, the system allows learners to download e-books, video tutorials, past papers and worksheets free of charge. Although the system currently only offers mathematics and science material, Syafunda are looking to expand it and add geography and accounting aids.

“Through digital tests we identify, capture and monitor performance data and profile each student for support, career guidance and university bursary placement while giving our clients and schools real-time feedback and intervention capabilities,” explains Ngubo.

The Syafunda model has registered significant success and hopes to expand its reach to 500 schools, 200 public libraries and 100 community centres by 2019.

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