Education is one of the biggest challenges in South Africa; teachers face challenges in the form of black outs, lack of online access to the internet, and the fact course material might not always be readily available.
Over the last couple of years Kenyan-based BRCK has been trying to address some of these issues – and has steadily become hugely popular.
Driven by Juliana Rotich, the Executive Director for Ushahidi, BRCK’s main product is a backup connection to the internet of sorts. It is essentially a mobile broadband router with a built-in power supply that’s sealed against the elements. It’s a vital tool to help rural, under-served and unreachable citizens access to the internet, and can be charged through a car battery or solar panels.
The company announced today that it has created BRCK Education, a programme to fast-track the learning process by pairing BRCK with all the tools to essentially form a classroom-in-a-box.
The BRCK Kio kit, it is made up of up of 40 rugged Kio tablets, the BRCK, wireless charging functionality to reduce breakage, and everything is neatly packaged in a hardened, waterproof, lockable case for added security.
“The Kio Kit is designed as a simple, elegant ‘digital classroom in a box’ solution which requires minimal training or technical knowledge to set-up and use. It connects any school within range of a mobile phone tower to the internet, as well as provides locally hosted content to the Kio tablets within each kit,” the company explained.
The Kio tablet has been designed to be as low-cost as possible, while rugged enough to withstand knocks from younger learners. It comes shipped with locally cached videos and web-based content, and has an operating time of around eight hours – just as long as a regular school day.
Material for the learners installed on the tablets comes from international education house Pearsons, while four Kenyan suppliers have also contributed content.
The full Kio Kit sells for $5 000, and a single Kio tablets retails for just $99. Pre-orders are now open on the BRCK Education website and with actual units will be shipped in January next year.
The company has also partnered with Kenyatta University (KU), to build a manufacturing plant so that the BRCK units can be produced at a faster rate. This in turn also provide employment to employ thousands of Kenyans.
[Image – BRCK]