Q&A: eLimu’s Nivi Mukherjee

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Learning is most effective when it’s dynamic, captivating and intriguing for children. That is exactly what the team behind eLimu had in mind when they developed their app.

Nivi Mukherjee, co-founder of eLimu (image: kachwanya.com)

When the App Developer contest was held at Mobile Web East Africa and sponsored by InMobi, eLimu managed to win the award of “Best App” despite the extreme challenges from other competing apps.

eLimu is an interactive app and features learning revision content for the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) subject areas, 3D animations for complex topics, songs to aid understanding, quizzes to track progress, examination tips and techniques, student feedback and so on.

Nivi Mukherjee, co-founder of eLimu, spoke to us about the app’s developeent, and that there is more to the app than just an “App”.


What makes eLimu app different?

eLimu is a unique educational device that is loaded with educational content specifically for Kenyan Primary school students.  Currently, we have content for Standard 8 KCPE students, but will be loading lots more content on the platform.  The platform is delivered on Android tablets which are fun and interactive for children to learn on.

In addition to the content of the 6 KCPE subjects, eLimu also contains content outside the national curriculum focused on responsible citizenship and gradually shifting collective behavior towards a more sustainable lifestyle by covering topics such as environmental conservation, civic rights, human rights, community development, agriculture, etc. eLimu hopes to make a significant and positive long term impact on the Kenyan youth by improving their: test scores, cognitive thinking skills, social/environmental consciousness and IT literacy.

In the Kenyan education sector, what gap does eLimu seek to fill?

The aspects of fun, creativity and play were completely ignored when the British left us with our current educational philosophy. eLimu is an interactive, engaging and fun application for children in the Kenyan Primary School education system to learn and revise for their exams.  It incorporates animations, videos, songs, music, games and quizzes into the content from a leading local textbook publisher.

Can we compare eLimu with other automated school management systems that have online platforms?

The application can be deployed on any Android Smartphone or tablet with internet connectivity in order to facilitate Q&A’s with teachers and collaborative learning. Although there are online educational platforms out there, most are focused on numeracy and literacy.  None are focused on culturally relevant content specific to our national curriculum.

What motivated you to create this app?

It just made sense to combine my passions for education and technology.  When I see the state of our public education system, what I see that makes me very sad are bored children! Children are innately fascinated by the world around them. Our education system, schools; textbooks; and underpaid/undertrained teachers are stifling the spirit of enquiry in our children. What we end up with, is generations who only know how to follow rote instructions and memorize facts – we will eventually lose innovation and independent thinking if we don’t intervene with something big and disruptive now.

eLimu won the Mobile Web East Africa App Developer competition, how did that feel like?

Felt good to be recognized.  A lot of people and organizations claim to “support innovation in Africa”, but very few will invest in an idea that is completely new, revolutionary and untested.  There’s something too risky for traditionalists to back an idea that hasn’t been tried and tested.  They all say: “come back and we’ll talk after your pilot program” which is not really supporting innovation at all!

For schools and individuals that have not yet adopted the app, what can you advice of them?

Even without eLimu, without technology, as educationists we MUST rethink our approach to educating children.  First and foremost, we must remember that they are children.They need to be stimulated and encouraged with creativity, fun and play.

Michelle Tongo

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