• BURN MEDIA
    • Memeburn
      Tech-savvy insight and analysis
    • Gearburn
      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
    • Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!
education

Kenyan startup M-Shule gets investment from Engineers Without Borders

Canadian seed-stage investor Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) yesterday announced a cash investment worth $40 000 in Kenyan edtech startup M-Shule.

M-Shule is an SMS and web-based learning management platform which makes use of artificial intelligence to design tailored learning experiences. It was designed to handle 144 million primary school students across Sub-Saharan Africa and was launched in January in Nairobi, Kenya by Claire Mongeau.

In an email interview with Ventureburn, Mongeau said although they currently operate in Kenya, they intended to expand into East Africa by 2019 and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in subsequent years.

“We are excited and thrilled to work with EWB Ventures as a partner and investor, given their deep expertise, commitment to ongoing support, and shared focus on groundbreaking and sustainable change. The partnership will enable us to continue to innovate in primary school learning alongside our stakeholders, and scale our impact across the region,” she stated.

Canadian investor has invested $40 000 in M-Shule

To date, M-Shule has received more than $70 000 in funding.

This is the eighth such investment that EWB has made through its investment vehicle EWB Ventures, in a Sub-Saharan startup.

“What we love about M-Shule’s platform is that its holistic and unifying approach arms stakeholders in the primary school ecosystem with data-driven tools critical for improving the quality of education for all students.

“We are delighted to welcome M-Shule to our portfolio where they join other bold teams defiantly tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems,” the managing director of EWB Ventures, Nicky Khaki, said in a press release.

The investment into the Sub-Saharan edtech startup scene comes at a time in which has the region is experiencing the fastest growing and youngest population while grappling with illiteracy and drop outs in primary school children. Innovation in edtech solves the challenge of how to educate this demographic.

  • I’m not sure how you can use AI in an edtech product without having a big data set. M-Shule doesn’t have a large enough data set of students answering or responding to content in order to do this. To know and understand how learners in Kenya or even Africa at large learn best, especially when it comes to SMS, requires millions of data points on students. You cannot just use assumptions or best guesses.

    I’m quite worried about the edtech ecosystem making false claims about a branch of data science just because it is a buzz word along with “personalized learning” these days. Data science and one of its facets — Artificial intelligence — is a SCIENCE, not a theory. It requires sophisticated pattern recognition in algorithms, anomaly detection, and machine learning. Big data, along with integrated feedback mechanisms, are essential in terms of making this happen.

  • Peter Paints

    If they truly want to make a difference in kids’ lives, like you guys at Eneza are doing, they should focus on the student, not on their AI. Not all of the world’s problems are solvable with AI.
    I agree, it’s an exciting buzzword right now. But it might not be the right way to approach the Education problem in Africa. I might be wrong on this though, and I hope they prove me wrong and make a serious dent.

    • Yes, I definitely agree with you on this, Peter. The learner, whoever they may be, must be the primary focus. AI has it’s place in terms of helping students learn the basics as well. But human teachers (whether they are formal or informal) will always be needed to teach students. My hope is that AI frees up teachers’ time to get to higher level thinking and what truly matters when it comes to education — solving problems, creating, and connecting with each other.