There can be no doubting Lesotho’s commitment to education. In 2000, the country began making primary education free; a decade later, in 2010, it became compulsory. Now the country is trialling a startup that sends homework to pupils via mobile phone.
Sterio.me sends homework lessons and quizzes to basic phones that have limited access to data. Phones of this type have more than 86% penetration in Lesotho. The programme is undergoing trials in local schools, supported by the Vodacom Foundation, the ministry of education and the local teachers’ union, before being rolled out across the country.
The project was started by Christopher Pruijsen, Danielle Reid and Dean Rotherham during the 2013 StartupBus Africa hackathon, run by ampion.org. “We originally saw the potential to use something as simple as a mobile phone to deliver powerful information, especially across literacy, internet access and device barriers,” says Pruijsen, now CEO of Sterio.me. “We also wanted to make sure that the experience was simple and effective for teachers, by saving them time creating, distributing and marking homework.”