Out are the days of old, musty text books in schools, and in are technology devices such as tablets to help educators and learners better grasp the school curriculum. One such tablet making waves in Zambia is the ZEduPad from British tech entrepreneur and creator Mark Bennett.
Bennett, who has been living in Zambia for over 30 years, realized that there was a need. “It became clear that there was a huge need for this kind of technology, particularly tablet technology, which has come a long way in Africa in recent years,” he told CNN.
The ZEduPad is a 7-inch dual-core, capacitive touch-screen tablet which features 1GB RAM and a 32GB solid-state hard drive. Since it is an educational tablet, it only features a 0.3 mega-pixel camera with sound. The device can connect to networks through Wi-Fi, and has a battery with a 9-hour capacity. It also comes pre-loaded with iSchool lessons for the entire Zambian curriculum.
“We can really do something very major for the first time. We’ve invested about $5 million to date… It’s totally all-encompassing and quite prescriptive so we are aiming at being able to get to an untrained teacher in a deep rural area in the African bush,” Bennett added.
According to the device’s website, it can “help the whole family become life-long learners, with every lesson in the Zambian school syllabus, backed up with homework for every grade, Wikipedia is pre-loaded on the device, and Word processor and spreadsheet software, reference material and many more apps are included.”
The device comes in three different versions: Home, Teachers and Learner, and costs around $200. But Bennett intends to bring the price down. “It costs roughly $100 to have them made and landed here in this country. We sell them to teachers and schools for $200 at the moment. We hope to bring that price down. One of the other things we’re trying to do is provide significant tech support.”
But even with a price tag of $200, Bennett is confident that his device can change the educational system in Zambia.
“For years there was a problem with funding, education was not keeping up with population growth. Young people coming out of school and not being well suited or prepared to enter the job market…. We’re trying to change that.”
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor