If job adverts are anything to go by It looks like Econet is working on another new product, this time as part of their drive to modernise education. In the last part of 2014 an advert was placed on the company’s website for someone to fill the role of CEO for EcoEducation.
No, it’s not EcoSchool but EcoEducation. This is supposed to be a web based e-learning platform that offers primary level education content. The platform will be accessible on any internet enabled device and Econet is developing this in partnership with Ruzivo Digital Learning.
Nothing suggests that this EcoEducation is related to EcoSchool but it does fall into the same lane that Econet has hinted it would take with EcoSchool; that is offering their educational product at primary and secondary level. This is meant expand the relevance of Econet’s educational drive and should amplify the potential revenue.
When we followed leads on the new service(we still haven’t received any official comment) we were pointed in the direction of Higher Life Foundation. This is the Charity Foundation with strong ties to Econet through the Masiyiwa family. This explains the relationship with Econet but does little to confirm that this indeed linked to EcoSchool.
Why go down the Primary School route?
The potential market for primary school e-learning is huge and largely untapped in Zimbabwe. It also helps any future investments in e-learning to start from a primary school approach so as to create early adopters of this tech-meets-learning wave.
There is also the enormous problem of inadequate resources for primary school children that every developing country is trying to solve.
While there have been some notable attempts to tap into this lucrative market through digital content, even locally, (think e-Learning solutions) there is yet to be a breakout success in Zimbabwe that makes e-learning for school children something mainstream.
Thanks to brand visibility any product that has the Econet seal will likely have a greater chance of doing that, something that will be bolstered by the company’s recognised presence in education through EcoSchool and Econet Zero.
Another advantage for Econet will be the hardware distribution angle. This is what EcoSchool has been built on actually through the distribution of low cost tablets that allow the access of the content that comes after that.
It’s likely that this EcoEducation will be molded in the same form. It’s the winning formula that has helped primary school e-learning drives in other markets like iSchool Zambia’s ZEduPad.
As an Econet spawn it also stands to benefit from zero-rated or subsidised access to the learning content. This is something that would help solve the headache of internet costs for parents trying to wrap their minds around the add-on benefits of digital learning.
The challenge still lies in local content creation
As exciting as EcoEducation sounds, it does come with the challenge of creating local learning content which is something that other players like e-Learning Solutions haven’t fully figured out yet.
This has to be done in a systematic and regular fashion which brings in the aspect of costs. When this is weighed against the demands of maintaining some form of business case it will be a difficult balancing act for EcoEducation and EcoSchool.