Local mobile network operator Econet Wireless has announced that it is extending the content lineup for Ruzivo Digital Learning its e-learning platform.
Pupils using Ruzivo now have access to Shona, Ndebele, Home Economics, Religious and Moral Educations and Social Studies – 5 additional subjects meant to complement the existing lineup that only had Mathematics, English and Science.
Ruzivo Digital Learning was launched a little over a year ago as a subscription-based learning tool with content specifically for primary school Grades 4 to 7.
Since then it has undergone changes which include the expansion of its focus to cater for Grades 1 to 7.
From the information shared in Econet’s latest announcement, Ruzivo didn’t just add new content for all grades but it also dropped the prompt for the subscriptions, making its content free.
For users accessing Ruzivo using an Econet broadband connection, this makes the platform completely free since it’s been zero-rated (no data required) for Econet subscribers.
Is Ruzivo struggling to get users?
The latest changes aren’t surprising in an environment where Zimbabwe’s learning curriculum is undergoing so much change.
Access to all grades and adding new subjects, particularly two indigenous languages ties in with the mandate for universal education carried by the government through the Ministry of Education which is clearly a stakeholder in Ruzivo’s work.
However, the suspension/cancellation of the subscription fee does raise questions about how well the platform has been doing in terms of signups.
When it was launched, Ruzivo had a clear revenue motive with a $2/month price tag for both individual and per pupil per school sign ups. It also looked like its model was a mashup of everything online learning needed.
After all the time spent developing it Techzim even eyed it as the player to beat in the e-learning space – what with its zero-rated access that addressed Zimbabwe’s data woes, the curriculum specific content, a smooth payment option (via EcoCash of course) and the 2 buck charge which didn’t seem like much of a budget disruptor as far as education investment goes.
Plans to hack that away now suggests that perhaps users aren’t cosying up to it even though Econet has said “thousands” of users are signing up. If that’s the case, it would be a damper for Econet which needs all the Over the Top services revenues it can get as a telecoms operator.
It could also be food for thought for aspiring e-learning providers and startups – It takes more than zero-rated access to win over users and the business of education isn’t easy no matter how obvious the problem is and how powerful your brand is.