Earlier today we attended the media briefing for Ruzivo Digital Learning, the new e-learning platform from Econet that provides learning material for Primary and Secondary school children. This is the second major attempt at e-learning following the EcoSchool service.
The main presentation was made by Sabina Manduna, the head of Ruzivo Digital Learning, who outlined the functionality and benefits of the service. According to the Manduna, Ruzivo will be offering learning material for Grades 4 to 7 with plans underway to prepare content for Secondary School students.
There are two packages available for sign up – The Individual and the School Package. Ruzivo has already developed relationships with some schools in Zimbabwe where the platform will be promoted as a learning tool.
While Econet hasn’t shared details on the specific schools that have been engaged and how it will be working with them, information available on sign up to the Ruzivo website suggests a total over 100 schools spread across the country.
Ruzivo has been designed as a new service under Econet Education banner and rather than replacing EcoSchool, it will be acting as a complementary service that addresses the learning needs of primary and secondary education. EcoSchool will maintain its focus on delivering value for tertiary education students.
This relationship between Ruzivo and EcoSchool has also raised questions about efforts to distribute devices for e-learning, something that was a key focus for EocSchool.
According to Dr Jimmy Shindi, the Head of Econet Services, that approach is yet to be fully explored for Ruzivo since an inclusion of device dynamics, though critical, has its own challenges. For now, Ruzivo will focus on content delivery and developing a footprint for Econet Education in preparatory and high school environments.
A win for Econet and a push for e-learning – but with its own challenges
With a zero-rated website, an easy payment option, a strong budget for the product’s promotion and a content creation model that relies on locally relevant material curated by local education professionals, Econet is likely going to be the service provider to beat in e-learning through Ruzivo.
The mobile operator is tying together competitive advantages that it has acquired as a visible entity and service deliverer, and in the process, it is creating a potentially strong revenue stream, especially in cases where it can convince schools to adopt Ruzivo as a key aid in learning provision.
Ruzivo will be competition for all e-learning providers, but it also has the potential of breaking down barriers for other e-learning startups that have been trying to preach the gospel of learning convenience through technology.
However, it won’t be a cake walk. E-learning has always failed to have mass appeal because of a host of reasons that go beyond the ones accurately addressed by Econet’s Ruzivo Digital Learning platform.
The inadequacy of essential resources in creating a common learning environment is one major challenge. This is also compounded by how the majority of parents are faced with limited resources for additional learning tools. It’s something that is a symptom of a tough economic environment and the legacies attached to a subsidised education system that was always viewed as being well resourced.
For Ruzivo to flourish as a mass rollout service, there will also be the need for investment in skills development and product awareness for all the stakeholders, something that Econet might be geared to handle as a corporation but will have to accept as a challenge nonetheless.
It’s a path similar to the one Econet walked on when it made a mission out of expanding mobile money adoption through EcoCash. The parallels are hard to ignore.
Both services are addressing a significant need and have the potential of changing an entire sector even though they are coming on the heels of other platforms that have tried to be just as disruptive. But, for the services to work, a lot will have to be dedicated to them, just like any other disruptive journey.