EdTech has exploded worldwide since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. According to a recent study by GSV Ventures, a global platform focused on amplifying innovation, 20% of the world’s population or 1.6 billion people became online learners overnight due to the impact of the pandemic. In Africa, most schools had to adapt to the transition from the traditional classroom setting to virtual platforms, amid an array of challenges.
Cecil Senna Nutakor, the Chief Executive Officer of eCampus LLC, had a lot to say in a conversation with him concerning EdTech and the rise of digital education in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
The conversation started off with his company, recently awarding 80 participating schools in a contest with GHS 2,000,000 (USD 345,000) worth of subscriptions on the eCampus platform.
Being one of Ghana’s most outspoken EdTech pioneers, I wanted to find out if this gesture was in support of the call for national reform in the educational system and most importantly, boosting the access to digital education for every Ghanaian child.
Notwithstanding, Cecil hinted at this gesture as being one of many his company has facilitated, “We visited a lot of schools in the past especially those in the Southern belt between 2017 to 2019. We’ve been doing a lot of engagements to help people understand how the technology works and how we can help teachers especially because it gives teachers a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the students they are teaching, and that helps them improve their delivery and re-tailor their teaching methods, he said.
During Ghana’s lockdown, learners had to reorient themselves with the use of digital platforms and learning tools such as Zoom, Moodle, Google Meet, and others.
Cecil recounted the impact this shift had on the eCampus LLC app which led to the platform’s promo code being rapidly oversubscribed by 16,000+ users in less than two weeks. As an advocate for digital education and leveraging digital tools, Cecil referenced this as a step in the right direction, and a win for the adoption of EdTech in the West African country.
The young CEO and Social Entrepreneur further laid bare the impressive list of partnerships his company had secured in a bid to push digital education across Ghana. According to Cecil, “Education is a big elephant, no one person can bring it down on his own, that is why we are open to partnerships to help grow the inclusion of Digital Education across Africa. 80% of our success so far has been through partnerships. We got very strategic partnerships with the telcos from Vodafone, MTN, AirtelTigo, Surfline and almost everyone came on board so eCampus was data-free on their networks”, he explained to me.
For children living in rural or underserved areas, Cecil stated that eCampus LLC’s partnership with Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) will enable these children to get easy access to connectivity as well as the educational materials on the platform.
Cecil added that another future partnership is currently underway, ”We are currently working on a partnership we hope to close this month with Oxfam. That’s going to help us get to even more remote areas where we can’t reach with our own resources”.
I wrapped up our conversation by asking him about the changes he would like to be effected in the country’s current educational policies. He answered with his review on the current GES policy, stating that it lacked a focus on teacher education. He also made a projection that the country might run into a deficit of almost 70% of non-digital-skilled teachers.
As a proposed solution to the nerve-racking problems facing the EdTech ecosystem, Cecil stated “If we can spend the next five to ten years reforming our college education system and training teachers to have digital skills to be able to use complex, simple, and even sophisticated digital tools to prepare, deliver and measure learning, we will be doing a great service to our country”.
Describing his company as a Pan-African country, Cecil is gradually expanding the services of his company outside Ghana and West Africa with a footprint in countries like Mozambique, South Africa, and Sierra Leone.
At the end of the day, Cecil envisions a country and continent fully embracing the new age of EdTech and digital skills.