Schools and education in developing countries?


I’m wondering if there’re any people here working with, or talking about, software for schools and students?

More specifically, I’m thinking about tools that connects teachers and students, with a bit focus on developing countries — so the students can ask questions, and the teacher and oher students can reply and help each other. Like, question-answers for students, when they’re stuck with their homework. Or they can discuss new courses to create, or ways to improve their school.

Or if you know about places I can visit and find such people? I might have found one:

Or if you’d be interested in having such discussions here?

welcome to the community and yes, we are certainly interested in such a discussion.

Are you currently already working on a project? If yes it would be a great way to get started if you describe it so we can start the discussion and find the people who would like to get involved.

If you do not yet have started maybe you could still give some examples or questions just a bit more in detail, (maybe half a page and add a picture if you can, that helps us to share it via our channels to find people that way).

Thank you for being here!

Hello , I am Eric and I just saw your post. I think the idea is incredible and I decided to respond because I and my team of volunteers are working to see that education in emergency zones works. I am from Cameroon , precisely from the English speaking part plagued by an armed conflicts which started in 2016 till date and given birth to more 4 million internally displaced persons. I and my partner here @trythis (Sam) have been discussing on the subject matter of improving Access of reproductive health and rights in developing countries using MP3 players. This is Innovative Education on reproductive health and psychosocial support for IDPs. It’s an education project and if you think we can collaborate, contribute or work together ,please do let @trythis know…
We will be more than happy to be inspired by your idea and learn from your project as well

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@matthias :slight_smile:

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Ok thanks :slight_smile: Sorry for my late reply.

Yes I am. You can see it at Talkyard is like a cross between of StackOverflow / Quora, and Reddit, and Discourse. How it can be used:

  • Students ask questions.
  • Teacher and studens post answers. (The students can help each other.)
  • If a student types a question that’s been answered already, the software directly shows the old answers; no need to ask again.
  • There’s a Disagree button, so one can tell others that an answer is incorrect.
  • Good answers surface to the top, so one finds them also if one is short of time and cannot read everything.

… After having read @gentlewest’s post above, I’m thinking there should be an “Anonymous question” feature, so students can ask about reproductive health, without feeling embarassed / possibly running into problems.

Some things I’m aware about needing help with, is:

1) To better understand life in Africa. E.g. 1A) the technical situation. I’ve undrestood that many people have an Android phone, and that iPhone is too expensive. And that sometimes network bandwidth is expensive. And barely anyone has a laptop (?) — But what Eric wrote about MP3 players made me totally confused. Until now when I’m thinking, maybe everyone cannot read? So they need to listen to the school books instead? … Maybe there’re 100 other things I don’t know :- )

And also 1B) I don’t know that much about which topics the schools teach, and in which cases a collaborative help-each-other discussion between students and teachers, makes the most sense.

2) Learning about how Talkyard’s user interface can be improved, so works betters for young students who maybe have only a low cost phone. And teachers who maybe aren’t computer savvy.

I’ll reply to Eric (@gentlewest) in a while to find out more about what they need / are hoping for :- )

Hi @KajMagnus - there are layers to what you are doing beyond the purely technical, what you are doing has social, political and geographic dimensions.

Africa, is not a country and you will find different situations and cultures depending on where you look :slight_smile: To begin with you have the question of languages…

There are probably existing projects an groups doing what you want to do, and which have an intricate set of social relationships and dynamics that have been working for quite some time. There are many stories of international development projects that come in and end up breaking more than they fix because they are not mindful of this…

So I would recommend following up with @gentlewest and you might want to talk to @thomasmboa about this. Gunnar knows a lot about commercial mobile + financial services on the continent. If you want an introduction to Gunnar let me know.

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(I have in mind English speaking countries in Africa first, and then people can translate to their local languages if they want to, or maybe I’ll find someone to do that.)

I haven’t found any good looking software that lets students ask questions and get help from each other and the teachers — except for this: … It’s also Question-Answers software, but tailored for universities. Previously, until now, I thought Piazza was only for the US. Now I just noticed apparently they’re in 90 countries. I find the founder’s story quite fascinating:

Eric @gentlewest I’m thinking Piazza might be something you’d like to take a look at?

Otherwise, apart from Piazza, I’ve found software mainly for school management, e.g. adding students, joining courses, doing online shoolwork quizzes etc. But not for students posting questions and the teachers and other studens helping out.

What’s on my mind is that teachers and schools create their own local communities, with their own rules and ways of working. And I’m thinking they would do that, in a way that works for their local communities and countries? — It’s open source software that people control themselves and decide how to use. I would not think of this as an external develoment project.

At the same time, yes seems like good to be aware about how social relationships and dynamics can work, … Maybe mainly so the software can be described and documented, so that teachers in various different social settings, learn how to configure it so it suites their situation. So I’ll follow up with the people you mentioned :- )

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Hi Eric @gentlewest and Sam @trythis,

Wow that sounds like an interesting project to me. If you have a website, could you post a link? (I didn’t find via your profile). … Hmm, you’re discussing about statring this project, but it doesn’t actually exist yet?

MP3 palyers? Why not mobile phones? :- )

(Can I guess? 1) Maybe not everyone can read, so spoken “classes” via MP3 players work better? Or 2) “everyone” has an MP3 player but not a phone? Or 3) simpler for you to record the classes & instructions, with MP3 players? Or 4) people tend to have neither phones nor MP3 players? But a few people do have MP3 players, so everyone can gather around someone’s MP3 player and listen all of them together? or 5) you have MP3 players which you lend to the people in the camps … sounds complicated with 4 M displaced ppl though)

What other tech have you considered? (than MP3 players?)

If you have time, maybe you’d like to have a look at If you have any thoughts about if it suites you project, or if it doesn’t and why not, would be interesting to hear.

Some thoughts / question:

  • I’m thinking the students who learn about repro health, might want to post anonymous questions? So that’s a feature I’m thinking I can add to the software I’m developing. (Assuming some of them have mobile phones.)
  • How many can read and write? (If they’ve spent maybe a large part of their life in a camp, having fled from the conflict zones, maybe they didn’t get the chance.)
  • How many of the people in your target group have phones? (Is it sth like 1 out of 100, or 1 / 10, or 5 / 10 or 9 / 10?)

yes I am thinking about one of the failure points of MITs one laptop per child project. They hadnt taken into account e.g how the dynamics change in a classroom where students suddenly had these new machines while teachers didnt have basic supplies.

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