Gossy Ukanwokwe, is a 23 year old Nigerian based student ,and Founder and CEO of one of Africa’s fastest growing e-learning social networking site – Students Circle. Ukanwokwe, who is regarded as one of Africa’s top young Technology Entrepreneurs is currently completing a course in Management Information Systems at the Girne American University. Ukanwokwe is extremely passionate about Africa, Education and Technology.
1. Why did you create the social networking e-learning platform – Students Circle?
Firstly I felt that I should make it easier for students and learners to find resources they need for academic work because I learnt most of my programming by self-tutoring online and I found it difficult to get resources that are in a syllabus. However when I did, I didn’t have other students to study with. Students Circle solves both problems.
Secondly, with the growth in demand, rising costs of post secondary education, and a demographic bulge in the youth population, young adults are faced with greater pressures when making the choice to attend post secondary school and graduate school. These pressures makes it difficult for the average African to gain access to quality education or resources at a low cost.
2. How will Students Circle assist with the advancement of ICT in Africa?
We believe Students Circle will become a hub for all learners in Africa. ICT is one of the major disciplines on the network. We strongly believe that ICT has a role to play in the growth of the continent. If every African with a smartphone and internet enabled devices has access to ICT resources on Students Circle. Everyone can be a learner.
I had a conversation with my adviser at Girne American University Prof Beran Necat, he said he believes that Students Circle will be the perfect example for Africa to see how ICT can be used not just in Education but in every other sector, and I believe him.
3. How did you manage to secure funding for Students Circle?
Students Circle is currently self-funded.
4. What are your sentiments regarding the current educational system across Africa?
It’s a hopeful sentiment. I am looking at it from different aspects.
Incentives, Motivation, Quality and more for Educators: Are educators paid well enough to motivate them to give their best to students? This I believe affects the quality of what students get. Also in the aspect of quality, are all our educators up to date with training, current trends and theories?
Motivation, Attitude, Poise, Access and more for Learners: Do learners have access to high quality resources? Do they have the right attitude towards education? Do they have the right motivation to learn? Are they poised? The answers to these questions will differ for different African countries, but I am sure we can all agree that the score card on average will be less than 45%.
In the aspect of Technological Implementation, do African academic institutions place priority on technological implementation and integration into the system?
In the aspect of Infrastructure, do African academic institutions have all the right infrastructures, labs and tools that will allow them deliver their optimum?
5. How will Students Circle help to close the academic and digital divide in Africa?
Students Circle will close these divides not by itself, however by the single contribution of every African educator, learner, institution and the people in general.
We can do our best to ensure that the gap of quality of resources is closed. We will ensure that the quality of access is closed too. We are currently working with Encipher Group to have SCN (Students Circle Network) resources on every tablet PC that is sold to their market in Africa. This will ensure enough penetration and access.
In the aspect of universality, we are bridging that divide by bringing students from over 125 countries to come together and learn in a single platform. We are closing the gap of poise, motivation and attitude as well – by making education and learning both fun and social.
6. Did you ever imagine that you could be one of Africa’s Top Young Technology Entrepreneur?
Trust me, that’s a totally far thought. I have always wanted to be an Entrepreneur. I have always wished to solve real life problems by creating things. I am African as well, so I guess the equation can suffice.
7. What sort of content do you provide on Students Circle?
There are over 10,000 resources that are indexed on Students Circle. These resources are from some of the top universities across the globe. There are full courses, tutorials, outlines and projects. These resources are both in text, video, audio and video. You can actually start learning a few languages on Students Circle as well. We are expanding our disciplines to accommodate more. We currently have resources from Humanities, Business, Computing, Engineering, Medical and Health Sciences, General Sciences, Law, Social Sciences and more.
8. How do you market the website across Africa’s Colleges and Universities?
We just fully set up the new interface for the network. We are starting our focus on Africa. We will be reaching out to these colleges and universities in diverse ways. In all we will show them how Students Circle can benefit them. First, they can get a whole lot of exposure to prospective students by partnering with us. They can use our platform to kick-off their own e-learning initiatives. They can use the resources on SCN to build on their own resources and in turn deliver more resources content to their students.
9. Do you firmly believe Africa can be at the forefront of Technology? What needs to be done to accelerate that dream?
Africa is the future. Africa is the untapped market of the world. Africa has made its contributions to the growth of Technology on the global front by generating such resourceful people who have contributed to the growth of Tech.
I think it’s time we all synergize from our different locations and places. Let us all assemble to deliver cutting edge solutions that will take Africa to the next level.
Orientation is also needed. Africans need to understand that African solutions and products are good enough to compete with Western ones. Once they embrace African solutions by Africans, a lot more will start to unfold.
Bontle Moeng – ITNewsAfrica Online Editor