SDG 4: Quality Education
Quality education for children and youth is essential to African development. The right to education is critical to a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential. All children and youth should have the opportunity to receive an education suited to their talents, interests and abilities.
Significant progress has been made in Africa in improving access to education for children, with net enrollment in primary school steadily increasing since the year 2000. Still, as of 2015, 51 percent the children in the world who were denied primary school education were sub-Saharan African, with not a single region coming close to the levels experienced in Africa.1 The quality of education in the region is another hurdle to overcome: African youth still experience high rates of illiteracy compared to other parts of the world.2
Forty-three percent of the Change Leaders we support in Africa run social enterprises focused on improving access to quality education.1, 2. UNESCO, (2015). EFA Global Monitoring Report. Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges.
In the educational system in many African countries, there is little to no focus on educating children about environment sciences and students are not taught about on their role in reducing human impact on the environment. Change Leader Karim Gadjigo saw this as a major problem: with Africa’s increasing industrialization, he knew that something needed to be done to educate children about the importance of the environment and providing them with an identifiable role model who could empower them to preserve resources and protect fragile ecosystems.
“I thought to myself that we had to offer educational and cultural alternatives to our children through new heroes,” Karim says.
That idea developed into a lovable character name Mia Moké, a curious young African girl who cares deeply about nature, takes action to protect it and sets a positive and empowering example for African children. Through a free mobile application, Mia Moké takes children on exciting adventures, teaching them through animated stories, games, quizzes, colouring, sing-along songs, and more. Using the app, children learn about African animals, ecosystems, people and even what they can do to make a difference and take care of the environment.
Underlying the environmental theme, there is a strong educational component to the app. Animations are accompanied with text along the bottom of the screen that is designed to help children read out loud along with Mia Moké and improve their reading skills. The app also provides quizzes help children to learn and retain science concepts and there is also an interactive map of Africa that teaches children key facts about each country and educates them on African geography.
Since joining the Reach for Change incubator in 2017, Karim and his team have been able to offer the Mia Moké app on Google Play free to all children., and in 2017 alone, they were supported to impact the lives of 10,612 children through the Mia Moké app.
“It is precisely thanks to the grant received from Reach for Change and its partners that we have been able to finance the enriched free version of a voice synthesis module that allows the youngest children to be able to listen to the many didactic files,” Karim says.
Karim also received coaching and advise in the incubator which influenced the adoption of a new strategy for getting MIa Moké out to as many children as possible. The strategy involves producing a series of Mia Moké cartoons designed for broadcast on African TV channels to fill the growing demand for animated African content for children, and to generate revenues for the continued development of various Mia Moké media platforms.
Mia Moké’s association with Reach for Change has also lent credibility to the app. After winning a spot in the incubator, Karim sent out a number of press kits to media houses, which resulted in a number of high profile media stories about the clever little heroine who has already won the hearts of many African children.
With continued development, business support and exposure, Mia Moké has the potential to improve the environmental education and awareness of countless African children and equip them with knowledge to influence behavioral change in their homes, their communities and beyond.
Biram is a 10 year old boy from Dakar. Like most children his age, he has an innate curiosity about the world around him and a burning desire to learn. Biram has shown a particular interest in science and the environment.
In an effort to foster Biram’s interests and develop his learning further, his parents downloaded the Mia Moké app and purchased “eco-Bd” learning materials from MIa Moké to enhance his learning.
Biram instantly loved Mia Moké, the spritely young cartoon character who is a leader in protecting the environment, and inspires other children to become leaders in doing the same. While using the app and the supplementary materials, Biram has been able to learn about environmental science through exploration, games and quizzes. He has retained many new concepts about the way ecosystems work, biodiversity and the human impact on animal and plant life.
Biram also learned about how plants take sunlight, carbon dioxide and water and convert it into fuel to sustain themselves and grow - the concept of photosynthesis. He also learned about the role of photosynthesis in producing oxygen and now understands importance of forests in producing breathable air for people and animals to survive. Following Mia Moké through her virtual world on the app, and by taking quizzes that reinforced the concepts taught in Mia Moké videos, quizzes and games, Biram demonstrated an understandng of the role that trees play in ensuring good air quality. He also began applying his knowledge about trees to real-world contexts like deforestation.
"If they cut a lot of trees, we breathe less because oxygen comes from trees," Biram explains.
Biram also discovered through Mia Moké that the forestry industry in Senegal results in the destruction of a large proportion of the country’s forests.
"They cut three hundred football fields a day,” Biram says. "It's very serious!"
Since using the app, Biram has a new understanding of the stakes of deforestation and the unintended consequences of other industrial activities and has started to think about what he can do to make a change.
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