Easing access to study material through tech

Tuesday December 18 2018

The app is an educational tool aimed at giving

The app is an educational tool aimed at giving access to learning materials through smartphone, tablet or any other similar gadget. PHOTO I FILE 

By Elizabeth Tungaraza

Advances in technology give secondary school students in Tanzania every reason to celebrate. In the recent past, there have been many online platforms launched with the aim of easing access to academic content. Gone are the days when students had to scramble to access physical copies of learning materials. Presently, everything is readily available by the mere touch of a button.

Latest app to hit the academic field is Tanzania Efficient Secondary Education Access application (TESEA). Through this app students can have unlimited access to enjoy a comfortable means of studying anytime and anywhere. The app was founded by Abdul Mombokaleo.

The app is an educational tool aimed at giving access to learning materials through smartphone, tablet or any other similar gadget. Both teachers and students can enjoy well-prepared academic contents.

According to Mombokaleo, TESEA app offers a comprehensive collection of approved and certified studying materials that conform to the established national curriculum for secondary education.

Not an educationist by profession, Mombokaleo, through expertise in ICT, vowed to apply his knowledge to help find a better way to improve provision of quality education for secondary school students. The app was established in 2014, and later developed by Digital Academia Tanzania Ltd which carried out several in-depth researches on the use of technology in learning for secondary school students.

“The myriad of challenges the education sector has been facing made me think of a simple technological solution to complement government efforts to improve the provision of quality education,” says the founder.

Mombokaleo feels there are several factors that contribute to low performance in science subjects, including unavailability of enough teaching and learning materials, quality of teaching force, inadequate teaching facilities and poor infrastructure.

“Inadequate teaching and learning materials, poor education infrastructure such as classrooms, library and laboratory facilities, as well as insufficient number of teachers are some of challenges that motivated the establishment of TESEA APP,” he adds.

Due to such shortcomings, he sees that there is an urgent need to take concrete measures to raise the performance. “One of the areas of focus in this project is to ensure the availability of good, valid and reliable learning materials to both teachers and students,” the ICT expert says.

Through the app students can access studying material including text, audio and video especially on science subjects.

In order to ensure desired results are attained; available studying materials were developed based on the subject syllabuses by using experts in each subject. The syllabi were viewed in terms of topics, sub-topics, objectives and the competencies to be developed.

The plan of writing the material was shared among writers who were required to come up with quality work. For attractive content that can motivate learning, a group of information technology (IT) experts were involved. They added visual content such as pictures, videos, audios, diagrams and lab illustrations.

The app aims at complementing teachers’ work by enabling students to go an extra mile in learning what he/she was taught in class.

Due to having a culture of not reading, students now have a reason to start adapting a reading habit that is interactive. This will result in better results. Offered materials capture Ordinary and Advanced level secondary education curriculum.

Glory Msemwa, a form four student at Ugombolwa Secondary school, believes that the future of education is heavily dependent on technology. “Smartphone technology that enables us to access different apps can revolutionalise provision of quality education,” she says.

“Education apps are a useful tool for secondary students as we frequently use them during group discussions,” she adds.

Her mother, Saimba Msemwa, says she was not reluctant to give her daughter access to her smart phone for learning. “I usually make a follow-up on what she has accessed through my smartphone. ‘I’m pleased to know that she’s using the phone for the right reasons. As a result, I have no reason to worry about what she will access on the internet,” she says.

Nelly Mwanyika, a teacher at Good Samaritan School, says such education apps offer engaging learning material for both students and teachers. “Teachers can ask questions and get answers from the students and vice versa,” he says.

George Fortunatus, a student at National Institute of Technology (NIT), says such apps help students in different levels of education get easy access to learning materials.

Charles Totera, Chairperson of Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non Government Schools/Colleges (TAMONGSCO), feels that TESEA app will be a useful tool for both teachers and students.

“Students will be able to search for materials and study without the aid of a teacher; they will be able to access knowledge on subjects, attempt questions and get answers as well as accessing past exam papers,” said Totera during the launch of the application.

In his view, students will be able to understand better and build up their reasoning and thinking ability, therefore do away with cramming. “This Application came at the right time. Our education system should empower students to reason and not to cram. Our education makes students to be dependant instead of independent,” says Totera.

At the moment, more than 3,000 students have downloaded the app.