An innovation featuring a unique digital platform with capabilities to link students and teachers across Africa has been voted winner in the just-concluded Season 2 of Game of Learners (GOL) competition sponsored by Microsoft’s Africa Development Center – Kenya.
The solution dubbed Bloom-Learn, is a creation by a team of five students drawn from different universities in Kenya and Nigeria and emerged best of the 12 teams comprising 60 participants. The GOL is organised as a virtual hackathon and aims to enhance digital and coding skills amongst university students in Kenya and now extending to Nigeria for Season 2, whilst also helping them to develop impactful digital solutions to address some of the continent’s pressing challenges. This year, the task was to develop possible digital solutions that can aid Africa to overcome serious bottlenecks facing education in the region.
For instance, the Bloom-Learn platform is designed to allow teachers to upload classes, create one-on-one sessions with students, and communicate with students on each course via a chat forum. The innovation is informed by a desire to address education challenges such as lack of qualified teachers, facilities, and infrastructure especially in public schools due to inadequate funding.
“The platform’s mission is to digitise education, ensuring that everyone has access to learning opportunities. Furthermore, the platform allows one to donate space and computers to students, allowing the less fortunate to benefit from digital learning,” said Bethany Jepchumba from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the Bloom-Learn team leader.
Other members of the winning team were Joy Kathure (Dedan Kimathi University, Kenya), Festus Idowu (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria), Fortune Adekogbe (University of Lagos, Nigeria) and Afandi Indiatsi (Strathmore University, Kenya).
While announcing the winners at the side-lines of the Africa Development Center (ADC) virtual Open Day, Jack Ngare, the ADC Kenya Managing Director congratulated all the participating teams and challenged them to continue improving on their different innovations until they can be commercially scalable. “It is exciting to see young people from across Africa coming together and being so enthusiastic about finding local digital solutions to some of Africa’s problems in areas such as education and health. At the ADC, we are committed to supporting these young innovators to develop some of their ideas to viable solutions,” Ngare said.
Now in its second year, the GOL is structured as a 5-week virtual hackathon comprised of weekly sprints where, at the end of the 5th week, all participating teams submit their final projects for judging. Besides having the winning team featured on the GOL site along with announcements on social media, each standing member of the winning team will be awarded with a smartphone, one year Azure credits, one year LinkedIn Learning voucher, Azure Developer exam voucher, digital certificate, digital badge, a swag bag, and one-on-one mentorship from preferred professionals for winning.
“Mentorship plays a critical role in a student’s life and those who have access to them throughout their study often end up with an advantage over those who don’t. Mentors not only offer support, encouragement, wisdom and teaching, but they also provide knowledge from their experience which students can learn from and apply in their studies and professional life afterwards,” Ngare explained. “We are proud about the role we are playing as the ADC in preparing the next generation of coders and programmers for the African continent through initiatives such as the GOL.”