Our work is anchored in our vision for Africa! Our vision is a world where the 1.3 billion people living in Africa have a seat at the table in innovative fields globally, where African perspectives, knowledge, and skills help create new solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
A big step towards this vision lies in removing the barriers that hinder rural African children from accessing quality education and claiming agency over their futures.
Yiya AirScience removes educational barriers faced by children in last mile populations, and increases learner competencies, scientific curiosity, and appetite for STEM.
Yiya AirScience is an offline remote learning app on basic keypad phones!
Through our app, we have:
Users on the app each day
3 Ways We Work:
1: VILLAGE as a lab
We work with communities to identify the most pressing local challenges and then we teach students and out-of-school youths how to solve the most pressing local community challenges by applying the engineering design process and using science and math knowledge.
Yiya students have made technologies such as: bicycle powered phone chargers, hand sanitizers, solar food dryers and homemade solar panels all using locally available materials.
2: OFFLINE LEARNING APP as a virtual classroom
Yiya AirScience is an interactive offline remote learning experience that integrates 4 channels for engaging learners:
Low-tech app that runs on basic keypad phones
Lessons broadcast on radio
Content distributed via robocall
Participation reminders sent via text
We leverage a flipped classroom model to provide extra support to students since our lessons are conducted remotely.
3: THE ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS as a tool
We use the Engineering Design process as a tool to leverage young people’s resilience and to nurture their creativity and problem solving skills.
Our STEM courses instill personal agency in children at an early age and foster a lifelong interest in STEM.
To ensure that our lessons are Relevant, Engaging, Active and Learner-centred, we developed a REAL learning checklist that all our lessons have to meet before they are implemented.
Yiya AirScience’s 23% user engagement explained
The closest program model to Yiya AirScience right now are the MOOCs (massive open online courses) that are offered by organizations such as Udemy, Coursera, and EdX. These program models are similar to ours in that they offer accessible, inexpensive (sometimes free) interactive learning to massive numbers of people. The difference is that their users need the internet to access them, whereas for our program a user needs only a radio and a keypad phone. Due to the similarities (and the lack of another program with a comparable model to ours), we think they are the closest proxy for a benchmark that we can use. When we launched our pilot in August 2020, we benchmarked off of data from EdX (which at that point had been in operation since 2012). At that time, EdX had 24 million unique users and 1.6 million certificates (certifying completion of a course) had been issued. This is a course completion rate of 7%. Looking at an example of one course, MIT’s introductory Circuits and Electronics course which was first offered in the spring of 2012, approx 155,000 people signed up for the course and 7,200 completed it, which is a 4.6% completion rate. However, as EdX points out in its own impact report (and this was the sentence that inspired us to go ahead and jump in with our own Yiya AirScience pilot), although their completion rate looks very low on paper, “it would take an MIT professor over 35 years to teach this many students in person.” We have a similar perspective with Yiya AirScience, we are trying to get it out to hundreds of millions of African kids, with the aspiration that even if engagement levels are “low” when compared to more traditional education models, vastly more children will be engaged in total then traditional education models can reach.
Along those lines, in a typical physical classroom in Uganda, class goes for about one hour with 80 students, only about 5 students actively answer questions from the teacher by the end of the lesson. This is 6% engagement. Yiya AirScience gets a 23% engagement in every lesson. We put in place strategies to increase engagement throughout the course such as: sending weekly alerts via Robocalls and SMS to registered students to let them know what content will be covered and what materials they need, periodic sms to students who don’t complete tasks to encourage them to re-engage, instant feedback on lesson assessments, reports on how they did on weekly tests, and providing incentives, like materials kits for building the technologies and doing the science experiments, for most active students. We have teachers thank students by name for completing lesson assessments before the lesson ends for the day and thank students who called in. We also have different students record themselves while doing experiments and we play those audios on the radio to help encourage other students along the way.
Our work has been recognized by: