Educational Technology (EdTech) has become significantly relevant in minimising the gap in quality and access to education in Africa. It is widely accepted that most of Africa’s education and training programs suffer from low-quality teaching and learning, as well as inequalities and exclusion at all levels.1 Since its introduction, there have only been minor improvements in the education sector, especially when considering the political and socio-economic challenges in African countries directly affecting the market for these solutions. EdTech had originally been most adopted and popularised in the United States to prepare for an increasingly digital future. However, in Africa, EdTech plays a huge role in addressing the current education crisis.
According to UNESCO, in 2017, the African population was expected to increase by approximately 50% by 2035. The fact that there aren’t plans to develop hundreds of new universities to cater to these future students indicates that EdTech will be the only solution to provide equal access to high calibre education to the growing population.2 Social entrepreneurs from across the continent are developing innovative and transformative solutions striving toward an improvement in educational outcomes such as literacy and teacher training.3
There has been an increasing demand for EdTech startups in the Sub-Saharan region. The hard waves of the Covid-19 pandemic forced all scholars to adopt a home-based learning system. This response favoured countries whose governments recognised the need and the value to address the impact on the educational system using EdTech. However, while many have the perception that EdTech has been booming as a result of Covid-19 and the subsequent remote learning that’s been adopted globally, only 29 African EdTech startups received funding in 2021 – demonstrating that the sector is still lacking the support it needs to create substantial impact. According to the African Tech Startup Report 2021, this is only 5.1 per cent of the overall total number of technology startups to be funded over the course of 2021, a number that leapt 70.6 per cent from 17 (4.3 per cent of the total) in 2020.
Funding is one of the biggest setbacks experienced in the EdTech sector. As of August 2021, Africa’s EdTech industry had attracted $20 million in funding since 2019. This is a relatively small amount compared to investments in EdTech on a global scale, which reached $18.6 billion in 2019 alone.4 Apart from funding, another cause of EdTech startups’ failures can be attributed to the field’s poor method of recording its own history or reflecting critically on its development.5
Injini – a non-profit organisation founded in part by the Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative (CiTi) recognises the need for acceleration of EdTech solutions in Africa and exists for the sole purpose of improving educational outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa. They do this by supporting key stakeholders to increase the quality, access and relevance of education throughout the region.
Injini will be launching Africa’s first pan-African EdTech Think Tank this week. The Injini Think Tank (ITT) is the research, advisory and advocacy division of the organisation. The ITT aims to support EdTech entrepreneurs through relevant market research, support corporate initiatives in achieving their commitments toward educational outcomes and to advocate for educational reform through the provision and distribution of evidence-based research.
The launch event will bolster collaborations among funders, stakeholders, corporates and the broader society. Executive Head of Injini Krista Davidson says: “We have always had the objective of improving educational outcomes on the continent with an approach that is centred around supporting EdTech entrepreneurs from across Africa. Our new research offering has allowed us to expand our mandate to ensure that we are including all stakeholders in the education value chain, which we hope will drive the quality, accessibility and relevance of education in Africa in the right direction.”
Injini Chairperson and CiTi Director Brendan Hughes adds: “EdTech startups across Africa are a tool for quality and accessible education. We need to support such initiatives as a collective to empower young Africans through quality education. The Injini Think Tank division is one of the solutions that we need to solve Africa’s education crisis.”
In efforts to bring the ecosystem of EdTech together, Injini will be hosting a launch event to further introduce the Injini Think Tank to the market. The event will include all things relating to education, innovation, entrepreneurship, research and academia. Apart from accelerating entrepreneurs and EdTech businesses, Injini will now endeavour to partner with individuals and organisations with an interest in better understanding the realities on the ground in the African EdTech ecosystem.
Launch participants will include the keynote speaker Donnalee Donaldson, who is the education policy and program director in East Africa at Educate!, the EdTech Hub and Instill Education. The event will be followed by a panel discussion, which will feature members of the Injini Think Tank Advisory Committee, including Caspar Groenewald (Kenya Lead, EdTech Hub) and Alim Ladha (CEO, Instill Education).
Keynote Speaker Bio:
Donnalee Donaldson is an educationist, policy strategist, and EdTech enthusiast, leading teams that serve hundreds of thousands of youths and teachers across East Africa. She has expertise in collaborating with governments on the design and implementation of national education reforms and integrating technology into education. Her work in education has spanned eight countries in Africa, and she has been recognized as a sector changemaker by UNESCO, Ashoka, and UNLEASH. Among her key accomplishments are rolling out a national skills-based entrepreneurship education reform program and managing the launch of Rwanda’s first university in a refugee camp.
Date: 7 April 2022
Time: 14:00 -17:00
Venue: Woodstock Bandwidth Barn, Cape Town
Injini is known as Africa’s EdTech Accelerator and Think Tank and exists for the sole purpose of increasing the quality, access and relevance of education throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Injini’s programmes and research aim to support all education stakeholders with a mission to improve educational outcomes across the continent.