It’s been common knowledge for some several months now that Econet Services, the division of Econet that’s not hardcore telephony, is working on an ICT for education initiative that uses the company’s existing infrastructure to deliver tech enabled education services. The founder of the company, Strive Masiyiwa, has finally let out something official on the initiative on his Facebook Page.
In his update, Masiyiwa said the education initiative is called EcoSchool and that the company has been working on it for the past 12 months “at the Econet Research and Innovation Center, (ERIC).” It’s the first time we’re hearing of ERIC and its quite pleasing to see they are that serious about R&D.
According to the post, Masiyiwa made the EcoSchool announcement at a GSMA conference in South Africa recently.
As for what EcoSchool will be about, mostly what’s been rumoured so far. Here in his words:
This platform allows us to collect thousands of books, used by students in African schools, colleges, and universities, as well as course material, and put them on a platform, where they can be accessed on a special, low cost tablet, we call the “EcoSchool tablet”, or even a cheap smartphone.
Through EcoSchool Masiyiwa say they are looking to provide books (both those relevant to syllabi, as well as free books on the internet) at a much lower cost using the tablets. He says they also the tablet will ensure students and teachers access the internet at much lower costs thus contributing to universal access to the internet.
In terms when it will launch, he wouldn’t give specifics only saying within the coming 2 years it will be launched in 5 African countries. He said however that they will start with Universities and then down to Secondary and Primary schools.
Like other Econet Services initiatives, EcoSchool is an “obvious problem waiting for solutions” type. Access to education material and the internet is one of those obvious problems in Zimbabwe and the wider Africa. The solutions too are mostly obvious (see these proposed at a local hackathon last month) and logical – It just needs a team with resources that can execute well. Being a logical solution ofcourse doesn’t guarantee success.
You can read Masiyiwa’s full post here.