Rural Kenya, The USA and Elevating the Classroom Experience: The Kiko Muuo Interview

During the summer of 2017, at the MCW social entrepreneurship incubator in New York, USA, I got to meet one of the most remarkable people I have encountered to date. He was my age, wise beyond his years, intelligent and had the kindest soul; education technology entrepreneur, Kelvin Muuo-peace Kiko.

Kiko Muuo and Tino Chibebe

A little on Kiko

He has a passion for education which is evident in the way his eyes light up when he speaks about Angaza Elimu, his #edTech brainchild started in Kenya for the purpose of revolutionising the country’s education system.

TINO: When did you first get the idea for Angaza Elimu? What inspired it?

KIKO: I was inspired to start Angaza Elimu after my personal experience growing up in rural Eastern Kenya. I went to a primary school where we did not have adequate education resources, with an average of one textbook for ten students. We depended completely on the teachers, as they were the sole owners of textbooks and other learning resources. Teachers spent approximately 60% of the lesson time copying materials from the books to chalkboard leaving very little time for discussions and teaching.

I subsequently only ever first interacted with computers in secondary school, where I faced a steep learning curve: In order to catch up with classmates who attended private primary school, I had to devote most of my after school time learning about basic computer skills.

Learning about computers quickly turned into a passion and led me to pursue a career in communications engineering. During my fourth year of my university studies, I kept thinking of my early education and noticed that a large rural-urban gap still exists in terms of access to technology and basic computer training in schools. Thus, Angaza Elimu was born.

What gap in the educational market did you notice?

Current education systems, especially in Kenya, focus more on examinations and the result is producing “educated robots. This system does not spark creativity, imagination and critical thinking among students.

I wanted to provide a tech-light model designed to elevate classroom experiences everyday; a platform where teachers and students can access quality multimedia education content easily. We focus on competency based learning and encourage learning concrete skills rather than the abstract. On top of that we want to nurture creative and critical thinkers.

The Angaza Elimu team in action

So how do you address this? What products do you have?

We have 4 products actually. The first is the Classroom Integration Model. Under this model we have computers preinstalled with proprietary software and a projector to allow the teacher to share learning material with the classroom. Our solution strengthens, not replaces, the student-teacher relationship.

Our second product is a School Management System. This helps the teacher to track progress of the student.

The third product is the Student Portal​ where students can access curriculum materials outside the classroom.

The fourth product is the Kids’ Corner which is a supplemental training that engages students through teamwork and gets them excited about concrete skills such as: — Computer Programming — STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) — Art — Entrepreneurship.

When did you know you had the tools necessary to start the project?

I always believe that the greatest resource of building anything great is people power, that is, the network we have around us. I spoke with friends in my university and shared my vision and goals. I was happy that they were also concerned about creating a change in the education system since we shared the experience of an inefficient system and knew all the challenges students faced in school first hand. My friends were more than willing to team up and that’s how we managed to start everything, by relying on our aggregated knowledge and bootstrapping the project.

What has been the biggest challenge so far in building your company?

Probably the training of teachers. In some of the schools we find out that not everyone, both teachers and students, is well versed in computing. It takes us a couple of days to train basics computer skills just to ensure that everyone is comfortable handling the devices. In addition, poor internet coverage in parts of the country is also a challenge so we have altered our product to have all our platforms accessed offline.

An Angaza Elimu team member and students interacting with the Angaza Elimu interface

Where do you see AE (Angaza Elimu) in the next 10 years?

My goal is to have AE products being used in all sub saharan schools in ten years. We are working hard to scale up our operations. Our target is to transform education systems in Africa to ensure that students are able to access quality and but also relevant education.

Where can people find you and your company?

You can find us at our website and on our social media pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

You can find me on LinkedIn.

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