Sterio.me is an application created in Lesotho to help students enjoy their homework. It runs on mobile phones for teachers and their learners. It makes education accessible, therefore helping the 18% of the world population that is illiterate and the 60% that is offline as the application does not need any internet connection.
It was not so unexpected of Lesotho to make another move towards evolving their education systems. Lesotho has a good history of valuing education. It spends 13% of its GDP on education only, which is higher that of any country. From the year 2000, Lesotho has had free education and in 2010, primary education became compulsory. There is no sexism when it comes to education considering Lesotho has more girls attending school than boys.
Sterio.me was started by Daniel Reid, Dean Rotherham and Christopher Prujisen, the current CEO. In 2013, Prujisen attended the 2013 Start-up Bus hackathon organized by Ampion to share his start-up idea. During this road trip, he grew the idea, popularised it and even got EUR 50,000 for the project.
Back in Lesotho, sterio.me further grew to have more than a thousand questions. The application sends lessons and quizzes to phones. It also has a text to speech programme that reads out several multiple choice questions to be answered by keypad. The operations run real-time letting the teacher get everything on time.
The program is supported by Vodacom group Limited, an African mobile communications company that provides voice, messaging and data services. Vodacom has also offered to pay for free airtime that will be used by the phones.
Sterio.me has been widely accepted by many. It is also to be launched in Zimbabwe as Zimbabweans see it as a viable project. “For the moment, feedback from the students has been so positive that we trust they will complete the quizzes for their own benefit.” Said Christopher Prujisen. Sterio.me has also been featured in BBC and The Guardian. The group was even nominated for the Global Mobile Award: Young innovator of the year 2015. They were also ‘Launch edu’ finalists and have won more awards since their idea in 2013.
However, the sterio.me application still faces the same challenge that the traditional method of giving homework faces. Some people argue that sterio.me allows people to cheat as other parties may type in the answer for the students. Students can cheat using sterio.me in their homework just as much as they would do on paper. Anyone could get someone else to write their homework and present it as their own. However, these creative innovators are working on a way to reduce the cases by limiting the time one gets to answer a question and also by shuffling the questions for homework.
Another problem is that the application runs on mobile phones and requires students to have phones yet a mobile phone is not a priority to students’ parents in Lesotho. Some guardians are against children owning phones and some cannot afford phones either.
The group has not stopped at Lesotho though. They plan to include mobile English language learning for Asia and Latin America. Now look at that! It is not only revolutionizing education in Asia but also Latin America.