Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, it has been said, is the cornerstone of the development of any nation. It is on this premise that a new educational technology platform, GetBundi, was launched in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, to help equip youths across Africa with high-quality, engaging and accessible STEM and digital skills. Osita Oparaugo, founder/CEO of GetBundi, speaks to Chuks Oluigbo on the new platform, STEM learning, and why it should matter to Africa. Excerpts:
Could you enlighten us about GetBundi, the STEM-focused edtech platform you launched recently? And why does STEM matter to Africa?
Yes, the platform is dedicated to STEM learning. The STI Digital Skills will be launched on the platform on October 1, 2022. STEM learning is so important to Africa because science and technology plays a very critical role in nation building. To build infrastructure, one needs civil engineers; to exploit our natural resources, one needs scientists; to manufacture goods, one needs technology. Africa is in low supply of its own kind of these persons. Either they are in diaspora or so underrepresented that governments have to hire expatriates, keep borrowing or depend majorly on foreign entities. With STEM learning, Africa can be the king of its own development and compete globally in the realm of science and innovation.
Apart from focusing on STEM, the platform also targets secondary education. Why is this so?
Secondary school-aged students have a better appreciation of education than those in primary. They are at the stage where they have received the building blocks of education from the primary level. So, what next? They will be able to understand the GetBundi platform and be able to utilise it properly.
Sadly in Africa, only about 13 percent to 20 percent of students who enter the university each year study STEM-related fields. It means the like or dislike of STEM is in the secondary education level, hence our approach.
Again, for those in tertiary education, or business owners, our upcoming STI Digital Skills learning is targeted to them. Those at that level would have chosen a degree path and so it is best to help them develop skills useful to support them during and after learning, while they focus on their tertiary education.
Who is GetBundi meant for? Who should benefit from it?
GetBundi STEM is meant for you if you are a student. It is meant for you as a parent if you want your kids to excel in science and technology. Schools need it as teachers’ aid and continuous assessment for students. So also government agencies, NGOs and lovers of STEM education if they want to help build an Africa beyond aid.
GetBundi STI is meant for everyone who wants to learn digital skills mostly in graphics, video editing, coding and digital marketing. You should go for it, and support the platform because we are here to serve Africans and give them the skills they require to compete globally.
If STEM is the bedrock of any country’s development, could you name countries that have benefitted from STEM education?
Singapore is an excellent example to use because this is a country with no natural resources. It was a third world nation, rife with all the issues African nations face today. Yet, through investment in science and technology, they transformed their nation to be a first world country in less than 50 years. China went from no flush to building space stations within 40 years all credit to STEM.
How will GetBundi relate with physical classroom? Do you see any competition?
No. First of all, GetBundi is not designed to be a replacement for the traditional method of teaching. Rather, the relationship GetBundi has with the traditional secondary school is to supplement the teaching and learning process, whether as a teacher’s aid, study companion, revision guide, etc. We are here to support both teachers and students.
What does it cost to access the GetBundi platform?
We offer three (3) tiers of payment which provide unlimited access to GetBundi. We have 90 days at N10,000 or $20; 180 days at N18,000 or $36; 365 days at N25,000 or $50.
How would you navigate barriers like poverty and low internet penetration that could deny many people access to GetBundi?
We already have an understanding with EutelSat, which is still in the works, to provide satellite-based internet. This ensures that our product gets to those who need it regardless of their geographic location.
Internet adoption in Africa has increased to nearly 54 percent and many more countries are improving on their infrastructure.
We are also in talks with phone and tablet manufacturers to work out possible collaborations that will allow our apps on those devices run without internet.
There are more boys in STEM-related fields than girls. How does GetBundi plan to encourage more girls into STEM?
When we engage with NGOs, we tend towards those who have the girl-child as priority. This ensures we reach the girls disadvantaged as a result of their gender. Our parent company has a Foundation that will invest 10 percent of our gross profit towards charity and half of it is targeted towards the girl-child.
Are you working with or getting support from regional organizations in the continent on this project?
For now, we are having talks with the African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as some state governments in Nigeria.