The Education Revolution of the 21st Century

For years I have been a moderately loud opponent of the higher education system as is in Africa and the world in general. This is because, as an engineer and 5 years of engineering school later, I do not believe that education even remotely served me well to prepare me for work I now do in the technology sector. This is, however, not to say it was all bad!

My sentiments are not at all unique to this debate and hence why talk about the future of education and the future of work are now taking center stage, conference after conference.


So, what is wrong with the education systems we have now?

  1. Curriculums that are yet to be updated to reflect current market needs. This then makes content redundant and courses unnecessarily long. I remember getting super frustrated that a similar engineering course in the Netherlands would take 3 years and 2 years for a masters’ program. This is all while a student in Kenya would take 5 years in a public university to pursue their bachelors.

Keep in mind that over 50% of employers in Africa state that graduates’ skills do not match their needs.

  1. High Learning Costs. Education in prestigious universities is quickly becoming a pipe dream for the majority. Those who eventually manage are left drowning in eternal debt. This is so prevalent in South Africa that riots broke out earlier this year.
  2. Traditional learning models. The lecturer, notes and chalkboard method is as outdated as it gets. With all the LMS systems that exist out there, why hasn’t learning transformed into the digital era?

So, what is already happening today?

Uprooting traditional learning systems will take a long time. However, through different startups, change is coming. Here are four schools inside and outside of Africa that are reinventing education delivery (personal favorites). They are systematically tackling each of the cons listed above and will set the pace for how we learn in the 21st century.

  1. Make School. Make school is the first of its kind in the market, a Computer Science University where you get a Bachelor’s degree in 2 years. They have a strong ISA (Income sharing Agreement) model and you also get matched to employers and jobs during your course and post-graduation. You can learn more here.
  2. Lambda School. Lambda is a purely online technology school where you pay nothing upfront. You only start paying once you get a job after your course. This just means that they don’t get paid if you don’t get paid! Lambda recently launched in Africa targetting Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa in partnership with Paystack. You can learn more here.

Coming back closer home, there are a few schools that are doing it right:

  1. Moringa School. Using a blended learning model, students get exposed to a practical coding program spanning 5 months. The curriculum is driven by market demand and students are matched with hiring partners on graduation! Moringa is now working with governments and other partners in Kenya and Rwanda and other private partners to scale this learning model.
  2. Africa Leadership University. The AL Group has 2 universities in Mauritius and Rwanda and they’re looking to redefine university education in Africa.

Special mentions

Elewa Education. This company is revolutionizing content delivery in classrooms i.e. how teachers engage with students in classrooms to ensure better learning for students. They are based in Nairobi

Eneza Education. Based in Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast, Eneza provides learning and revision material using basic phone features.

So, what now?

Startups are slowly revolutionizing traditional industries and education is not forgotten. The potential of the education market in Africa is even bigger taking that public systems are not as receptive to changing market trends. In a list published recently highlighting the highest funded companies in Africa in 2019, 2 out of 10 were education-related companies, Andela and the Africa Leadership Group at $100M+ and $40M+ respectively.

How big is the opportunity you may ask? I will let the numbers do the talking.

Source: The Business of Education Report

Something amazing is happening in the education market today, whether you are an entrepreneur or an investor, keep an eye out.

In closing, for anyone looking into the education system in Africa, I would encourage you to read this report by Caerus Capital, The Business of Education.

Onwards with the new!



2 thoughts on “The Education Revolution of the 21st Century

  1. Great read! I totally agree that the education system is not keeping up with the times, and this is true inside and outside of Africa. I think there is a place for start ups to get involved as they can drive change quicker and, generally, have more money to play with. The only danger is letting the shareholders make decisions and not the educationalists but I do see a very bright future in this area 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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