The business of education has many players from the outfitters who kit our children every school term, the book maker who churns out thousands of ruled books for note taking, the schools who offer varied curricular, unions that ensure the rights of our teachers , the education institute that plans out our syllabus to government – who by looking at the many plans fronted in the battle for votes want to make it (the learning bit ) free in its entirety.
The new players in this ecosystem, who combined should change our model of knowledge dissemination are mobile and internet service providers who are often times synonymous, device manufacturers ,mobile application developers and government.
We have seem mobile application developers innovate around the current education system with the local examples of Mprep using SMS to help children with study guides, E-limu making learning a more interactive process using tablets and Kytabu a text book leasing service with a bold model.
Service providers on the other hand are pushing the adoption of the internet with the latest figures at an impressive seventeen plus million consumers of the internet, which would almost have one assume that a connected device is within, or should be within reach of every citizen. Safaricom, leading the onslaught has declared death to the smart phone and is embarking on a smart phone drive for the masses as device costs become more pocket friendly.I am yet to see a device manufacturer who would not want to push numbers. The market is home to Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, Techno and other device makers.
So how should all this come together? Government, being the agent of scale here, with budgets to boot should approach device manufacturers with a leasing model that will see them have a custom built device, stripped of elements that would not add value for the task at hand – knowledge dissemination. Leasing would ensure modern and cheaper device options over time at lower cost of ownership.
Service providers would then on the impetus of an assured and perpetual market create bundled packages on data that will ensure connectivity of the said devices. Cost of access may for example be higher outside the dedicated device whose data consumption will have been measured.
Publishers would then produce their work in digitally palatable formats and with savings from the removal of printing, distribution and storage costs, make content available at a price several factors lower than that of print editions. Opening up content via API’s will then allow developers to build innovative custom solutions targeting either mass or niche markets but still based on a curricular that is relevant ,verified and can be refreshed on the fly.
It may be easier said than done to align all the interested parties, but the possibility and value of the synergy is very real.