Internet evangelists have pitched massively open online courses (MOOCs) as a boon for education, especially in low-income countries like Tanzania, Motherboard reports.
Yet most seem completely oblivious to key local factors that inform effective learning, which has led to some commentators to say that plans for expanding MOOCs into developing nations are “delusional.”
Ubongo, a Tanzania-based social enterprise, is trying something different. Ubongo creates locally relevant, interactive educational content for kids on a multitude of platforms—not just online. By distributing content across TV, radio, mobile, and broadband networks, Ubongo hopes to both bust MOOCs and address local problems implicit in the Tanzanian education system.
One of the major quandaries with education worldwide, and certainly education in Tanzania, is the crucial difference between understanding information and simply memorizing it.
“According to my experience, many pupils have a problem with understanding. Most of them, I think, cram rather than understand,” said Tom Ng’atigwa, Ubongo’s educational director, as well as a math and music teacher at Saint Therese of Lisieux in Dar es Salaam. “The teacher puts info on the board, the student memorizes it, has no idea what it means.”