Using Instant Messaging Over GPRS to Help with School Work

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Apr 16, 2011
Using Instant Messaging Over GPRS to Help with School Work data sheet 1292 Views
Butgereit, Laurie
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Rural Africa is in need of qualified teachers in mathematics and science for primary and secondary school. Classrooms in rural Africa are often benches under a tree. The teachers themselves often have limited education in mathematics and science. As cellular telephony services pushes deeper into rural Africa, the question we asked was whether various wireless access methods could be used to assist children and teenagers with their mathematics and science education.

One of the leaders in low cost GPRS communication over cell phones is a South African based company, MXit Lifestyle, boasting over 7 million users using their mobile instant messaging chat client, MXit. According to MXit's demographics, 45% of their users are children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18.

Dr Math is a project which Meraka Institute initiated in January, 2007. Dr Math linked up children and teenagers using MXit on their cell phones to university students (using internet based workstations) in Pretoria who acted as tutors. The tutors would help with mathematics and, depending on the individual tutors, chemistry and physics homework problems. Currently, over 3000 children and teenagers are using this service in Southern Africa.