Injini, a Cape Town-based edtech incubator, officially launched last night (10 October) and unveiled the eight startups that have been selected to join its first cohort.
Eight startups from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan and Tanzania pitched at the event, held in Cape Town. The eight startups are Accelerated, Early Bird, M-Shule, Mtabe, Syafunda, Uthini, Yo’ Books and Zelda.
Speaking at the launch, Injini co-founder Jamie Martin lamented the state of education in South Africa and on the continent. Martin said 30-million children across Africa were out of school, with half of them never having attended school.
“The fierce urgency of that demographic challenge means that technology has got to be part of the solution,” says Injini co-founder Jamie Martin
“The reason we have come together to work on this is that business as usual is failing in education in Africa, it is failing here in South Africa. Failing the 58% of children who are aged nine and can’t read for meaning. Failing the 60% who leave high school without their matric, failing those who pass and go on to university and then find that there is not a funding system that allows them to stay there. And failing the millions of unemployed adults who were let down the first time around by the education system and then find there’s no second chance,” said Martin.
“If that’s the scale of the problem in Africa’s most industrialised economy, you can imagine the scale of the problem in countries that don’t have the financial capital, the infrastructure and the institutions that we have got here in South Africa,”he added.
Education crisis to be given a fierce urgency by demographics
Martin pointed out that the African population is set to double in the next three decades and that with 64% of the people in Africa already under 25, the “education crisis is about to be given a fierce urgency by demographics”.
“It’s either going to be the great demographic dividend that delivers the economic growth we have all been waiting for or it is going to be an unbearable strain in already fragile societies, and the difference is going to be education. The fierce urgency of that demographic challenge means that technology has got to be part of the solution,” he said.
Injini’s first cohort
Injini’s first cohort is working on tech that includes data analytics, feature-phone based active learning systems and artificial intelligence.
Accelerated(Ethiopia): Tech-based model that provides continuous teacher mentoring and learning inputs for engaging classrooms.
Early Bird(South Africa): Early childhood development analytics app for parents and early childhood development teachers.
M-Shule(Kenya): An adaptive mobile learning platform which is accessible on feature-phones and delivers content via SMS.
Mtabe(Tanzania): An offline digital assistant and search engine which uses artificial intelligence to provide education access to students without internet or smartphones.
Syafunda (South Africa): Learning and data management platform which provides access to digital content (audio, video and ebooks) through a wireless digital library.
Uthini (South Africa): Language learning platform that works through human tutors and a chatbot assistant.
Yo’ Books (South Sudan): Reading platform and online book store that distributes books on low-cost devices.
Zelda (South Africa): A platform that aims to address the lack of support young students receive while trying to make career building decisions. Zelda links students with bursars, employers and potential opportunities.