eLimu was one of the first start ups to come out of the iHub. Started in 2010, the shared working space was the place to find ambitious developers, designers, and entrepreneurs. Some wanted to make money, some wanted to make a difference, and some just wanted to do something cool. Most wanted to do all three.
But it was from this open plan space with table-football and a coffee machine on the top floor of Bishop Magua Centre on Ngong Road, that the first conversations about what technology could do in Kenya began, and the seeds of dozens of companies born. Five years later, the same building was home to 3 incubators, 9 start-ups, and a training school for young female designers and programmers.
eLimu’s founders, Nivi Sharma and Marie Githinji met over a game of table-football at the iHub, and got talking about education. What role could technology play in improving education in Kenya? Teachers were underpaid, textbooks were boring, and the “chalk and talk” method of teaching prevented students from taking control of their own learning.
Using their savings, they put revision materials on an android tablet, together with open source multimedia content from around the web, and piloted in a school in Kawangware. By the end of the first term, they saw results increase from 58% to 73%, and realised they were on to something.
When President Kibaki launched free primary education in 2003, but since then the quality of that education has been called into question. Uwezo reports that there are four classes without a teacher in each school, and only 46% of students pass KCPE exams. Even in Nairobi, 18% of Class 8 students fail literacy and numeracy tests for Class 2, and in North East Kenya that figure rises to 55%.
The government recognises the problem, and the potential of technology in schools. Since 2016 they have begun rolling out one tablet to each of the 1.2 million Class 1 children in 24,000 schools across Kenya.
There is a massive need for content for these devices that matches the Kenyan curriculum, and makes learning relevant and accessible to Kenyan children. That need extends to the 7,000 private schools and the millions of parents who want educational content for their children that they can access on a mobile phone.
That’s why eLimu has developed the leading application for KCPE Revision. The best-selling textbooks in Kenya are revision textbooks – precisely because parents realise how important the exams are. Our app contains all the material in six textbooks, yet is cheaper than buying the books. And students can also take past papers and get their scores instantly and be directed to what they need to learn – saving teachers and students time.
We’ve developed Hadithi! Hadithi! to improve literacy rates in the first two years of primary – right when it’s needed most and can have the biggest impact later in life. If revision is the parent’s priority, than literacy is the government’s. We use a proven pedagogy and the latest technology to develop interactive stories written by local teachers, illustrated by artists across East Africa, and voiced by actors and celebrities. Each story includes games and activities to keep a child busy for the whole school year.
We always remember to put the teacher central to our mission. Teachers are the gateway to technology – and it’s they that will determine whether it’s a success or not in schools. Over the last five years, we have developed teacher training courses to give them the confidence to use tech in schools, and to show them how they can use that technology to make their life easier – by making lesson plans, mark sheets, and their own materials on tablets and laptops.
Get in touch
Join us in changing the face of education by lending a hand and your voice, today! If you are a motivated, skilled, experienced and passionate about education, send us your CV and we’ll get in touch. We want you to help us write the next chapter of eLimu’s story.