By Mark Kawalya
Using artificial intelligence, Mtabe, a tech company in Tanzania has developed an App that offers educational content to students who do not have access to the internet or to learning books. Created by Given Edward, with a team consisting of software developers, entrepreneurs, and educators, Edward in 2014 launched an Edtech discussion forum for students to review what they had studied in school.
The firm plans to have Mtabe accessible across Tanzania, where, according to statistics, only a quarter of secondary students have access to online learning platforms. Although free universal education was rolled out in 2015, the availability of qualified teachers and learning materials is still a challenge.
Although still relatively new when compared to other e-learning platforms, Mtabe has been able to break ground and receive global attention. The startup went up against other social innovations in Africa and came out tops as the winner of the European Youth Awards Africa category in 2019.
Mtabe uses SMS technology and artificial intelligence to deliver educational content to learners using a straightforward App that students do not need to muster new technology or acquire new devices to use.
The firm aims to enable young people to transform their lives by expanding education access using digital tools that make learning easier and more efficient. The Matabe platform allows students to send study questions via SMS which triggers an answered response in a few seconds.
“I used my mother’s phone for my A-level revision,” says Lucy Moipe a student that joined university at the start of this year. “I got the answers to questions I needed quickly. I was surprised at how efficiently the tool works.”
The startup’s team of developers, educators, entrepreneurs and experts, covered all fields of learning, delivering curriculum-aligned content using SMS closing the gap between learners with internet access and those with no such access.
A partnership with the Institute of Education ensures that the project maintains content that is high quality and tailored for inclusion. Achieving high social impact while running the venture as a sustainable business is the two-pronged fork that governs Mtabe’s operations.
In February 2018, Mtabe was officially launched as a mobile application and an SMS platform, having a test run until November when it was introduced to students in the Kilimanjaro area. The app was embraced by more than 700 users in Kilimanjaro and then rolled out to students all over Tanzania in January 2019.