Tanzania: About Innovations and Learning in the Digital Space

The pace of digital transformation in Tanzania’s education system has seen the establishment of different digital tools and technology to create a forum for convenient learning.

Such e-learning platforms are aimed at easing the learning process by enabling students to develop effective self-directed learning skills.

It seems like every day we have new technology that enters the market to disrupt the transmission of academic content by providing access to a surplus of academic material curated to suit the students’ needs.

From Mtabe App, MyElimu to Shule Direct, such innovations are pioneered by young Tanzanians with innovative skills to take the leap into creating search engines for primary, secondary and university students.

Latest in this wave of innovators is Kizwalo Simbila. The young Tanzanian is the founder of SchoolBiz – an online education mobile app that allows students to learn, discuss and network. The application is students-centered and results-driven.

It is through such academic platforms that Tanzania’s education sector will be able to see consistent improvement right from the grassroots. In furtherance of such a vision, the core objective of the SchoolBiz, according to its founder, is to improve Tanzania’s education sector by easing the learning process.

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Simbila, who is also a public speaker and entrepreneur wishes to see his app prosper in the local market, but also internationally – specifically China where it already has a presence.

This milestone by a Tanzanian continues to highlight the ascendance that young innovators in this country continue to make in the digital world – a world that requires steadfastness, agility and resilience.

After realising his initial goal of starting an education app, next on the agenda for Simbila is to achieve all his personal and educational goals by conducting extensive research and feasibility studies. He says it is only through such a process that an enabling channel will be laid that will help bring together all that has been planned.

Simbila believes that Tanzanian scholars are ready for such technologies. He disputes the fallacy that Tanzanians are not keen on academic matters. “Tanzanian and Chinese students are eager learners. This gives us hope and makes us believe we made the right choice to launch the platform in these two countries,” he said.

In the learning process at different academic levels, it is through teamwork that students are able to carve a way to attaining good grades. Online platforms provide the possibility for virtual collaboration among its users. As such, these academic platforms out there can be utilized to foster teamwork among learners.

How the idea came?

Simbila says the idea to start an online education application came to mind in 2016. “At that time there wasn’t a platform quite like this, that would get students from different corners of the world to convene to one online space and learn, exchange ideas and interact. So I thought to myself – why not start one?” he says.

There’s a vacuum in Tanzania’s education sector. A lack of easily accessible academic material has made learning become a big challenge. But through the introduction of digital means, noticeable improvement has been recorded. “Nowadays most people own smartphones. Through such gadgets engagement and access to academic material is made easier. This inevitably improves academic performance,” says Simbila.

He adds: A student can start a topic online and others can join in the discussion. They can create groups for themselves and invite more students to join. They can also search for scholarships, job opportunities through the sub-forums created in the platform.”

Lubango Zilawoneka, a student at the Zhejiang University of Science and Technology in China, is one among the beneficiaries of the platform.

Zilawoneka says through the forum he has gotten connection with students from different parts of the world.

“I am planning to create my own community that will link and invite people from all corners of the world to share ideas.

Through such forums, we can have a better space for Tanzanian students to engage and be availed to different opportunities such as scholarships,” he says.

Hanipha Muki, a student at the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) has benefited from the online discussions that are conducted regularly on the online academic platform. “SchoolBiz has helped me connect more with my fellow students and through online engagement are we able to learn more and grow together as a community,” she says.

For Victor Faustine, a student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Management at Ardhi University, it’s the connectivity and opportunity to learn more from different people that have made him find the benefit of using online academic apps. “I have been able to connect with thousands of other students from across the world, sharing resources and knowledge,” he says.

The ever-evolving global trends and dynamics have made online academic apps become more important. Through apps are students able to share thoughts and knowledge. It is such advantages that made Emmanuel Wambura from the University of Dar es Salaam sign up with such apps. “E-learning apps enable us to be up-to-date with everything that is going on in the global academic field. So I find it very useful being a part of such a growing online student platform,” Wambura says.

Considering the rising enrollment numbers in learning institutions, pressure has to be eased in the access of academic material. The physical copies of books by scholars are not enough to cater to the needs of the demanding students. It is from this shortcoming that e-learning forums gain more relevance.

The cost of accessing study material reduces tenfold compared the amount spent trying to access physical copies of related content.

As Simbila, Given Edward, Ephraim Swilla and the rest continue to the pave the way for others in this digital space, Tanzanians should fervently make the most of such opportunities by accessing online forums to learn and network.

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