Among the challenges facing Africa, education and securing good jobs remain at the top of the pyramid. It is worse in rural communities, as they do not have access to a good education due to lack of funding, digitization and the language barrier. But LearnAM is about to turn that narrative around.
Founded by ScholarX, LearnAM is a localized mobile platform that provides audio and visual content to improve digital literacy, digital skills and professional skills with a target of over 100 million people in Africa. With the current focus on Nigeria, LearnAM uses localized languages namely Yoruba, Igbo, Huse, and Pidgin English. Users can switch from English to any of these local languages when learning a course on the app.
On Tuesday, the tech world witnessed the virtual launch of the educational diversification application organized on Zoom and Youtube. The theme of the launch was “Creating a Skilled Economy through Digital Inclusion and Education”. It hosted key industry experts in various roundtables, namely VDF Group Executive Director, Gbenga Omolokun, Tayshira Khan, Regional Business Development Director, KaiOS, Damilola Emuze, COO ScholarX, Tayo Ogundipe, CEO, Intelligra , to name a few. They all took turns giving poignant views on how to achieve digital and financial inclusion at the lowest level.
Taking participants in the past, ScholarX co-founder and CEO, Bola Lawal recounted how LearnAM became a silver lining idea during lockdown. The parent company ScholarX had at the time faced a shortage of staff and funds. “LearnAM started as an idea during the lockdown. During the lockdown, a lot has happened. Even ScholarX envisioned continuity. We lost a lot of staff and a lot of our funding pipeline for our scholarship management business dried up, things were very difficult. ” he said.
ScholarX conducted research and reviewed the opportunities that presented themselves during the lockdown. LearnAM was born out of the need to create jobs for the many people who lost theirs due to the staff shortages that plagued many businesses during the pandemic. And most importantly, bridging the digital literacy divide in rural communities. “Fortunately for us, the GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion has just issued a call for applications. We thought it was interesting and exciting for them to review our idea, LearnAM. said Lawal.
Leonard Koray of the GSMA also spoke at the event, who noted that the call for funding received nearly 600 applications from startups and SMEs in 44 countries in Africa and Asia. “The winner was selected after a rigorous application process followed by selection by an independent panel of industry experts. ScholarX has established itself among the nine start-ups on these two continents. It’s a very big deal, congratulations to the team ”.
The fund also focuses on providing technical assistance to the laureate. “For Researcher X, we help them build the LearnAM app, and providing local context is important for that,” Koray added.
ScholarX will also receive support from Airtel Nigeria and Intelligra, incorporating a device finance program that allows individuals and cooperative members to purchase a device preloaded with the LearnAM app and affordable data services.
How to register on LearnAM
The LearnAM app is currently available on two platforms, KaiOS and Android. It only requires a phone number and password for registration. This is because the target users mainly live in rural areas and most of them do not have email addresses.
After registration, the next step is for a user to fill in their first name, last name, email (not required), gender, status and education level.
The Android app has more features that are not available on KaiOS. This immediately gives the user the option to select the language in which they would like to view the app.
How to watch a course on LearnAM
The three course categories include:
- Digital skills
- Personal improvement
- Professional skills
When a user clicks on a course in one of the categories, it will display an excerpt of the course and also allow the user to watch a mini-video on the course introduction. It also allows the user to select their preferred language to watch the course.
A user can click on the enrollment button to view the various modules available for a particular course and its timestamp.
To track performance level, a user cannot skip to the next video until they finish watching the current video. This way, it’s easy to tell that the user actually viewed the content.
A search button is available to search for a particular course and watch it in its preferred language.
Bola Lawal noted that by the end of this week, new features will be added to the Android version, which will allow users to watch offline courses similar to Spotify and Apple Music. But the way LearnAM goes about it is that users wouldn’t have to download the course videos themselves. Once they watch a particular course, the others are automatically downloaded to their device. Users can access downloaded videos without having to visit the app.
Plans to get content providers as providers on the platform are also underway. Content will be reviewed in accordance with the LearnAM standard before being made available to the public. There will be a revenue sharing partnership between LearnAM and the content creators. Once a user subscribes to a content creator course, the earnings are read on the dashboard. A USSD code will be introduced to facilitate subscriptions.
LearnAM is an opportunity for young people to continue earning a living while learning at their own pace. It accommodates localized individuals aged 18 to 35 using a 360 approach to education. They can acquire relevant and competitive skills that rightly position them for international jobs. Some of the available course topics are as simple as How to Fix Cell Phones, How to Navigate Google, and How to Monetize YouTube.
By 2030, LearnAM’s goal is to have created over 230 million jobs. For now, it has already started spreading its tentacles in some Nigerian states, namely Kwara, Ibadan, Kano and Kaduna.