An AfriTech XYZ conversation with Owen Madara, Country Director of Growd Global.
Growd is striving to revolutionize how Africa educates its youth with its innovative edtech platform, which allows children and parents in Kenya to design their own holistic learning experiences in and outside classrooms.
Growd is a combination of the words ‘growth’ and ‘development’ and was launched in response to the challenges its founder, Angie Madara, had in accessing extra-curricular activities for her children. The edtech platform is designed for children aged 0 to 14 years and uses AI and machine learning to curate co-curricular educational activities. It is an inclusive ecosystem that connects parents and children to services and information tailored to each child's individual milestones, interests and goals so that they can learn inside or outside the classroom at their own pace.
Bayo Adelaja, Chief Doer at Do it Now Now speaks with its Country Director, Owen Madara, to learn more.
Owen tells Bayo that one of the things they discovered as a team was that, while education was an important priority for the Kenyan government, budgetary constraints meant that only the essential elements of basic education were being focussed on. He further added that there seemed to be no real inclination to include what he calls ‘co-curricular’ activities within the educational system beyond meeting the basic curriculum.
Owen explains: “We noticed that when children are taught with the focus solely on performance without allowing sufficient time for play, this has a negative impact on the child. This includes stress, anxiety and depression, which research shows has risen by 50% in recent years among children. Countries like Finland notably lead the way in delivering a more holistic education for children, and while parents in Kenya are starting to emulate this, there is still so much more we can do to improve our approach to educating our youth.”
A holistic disruption of schooling
Growd is pioneering in its approach of enabling its users access to core curriculum elements as well as activities such as art, sports and STEM programs. This ‘Montessori’-style of schooling is growing in popularity and presents a rich pocket of opportunity for innovation within the edtech sector across Africa. The company doesn't appear to have many direct competitors in the space as yet. This, explains Owen, is because most of its key competitors tend to offer basic information on how to find educational activities whereas Growd’s holistic offering deftly uses AI and machine learning to deliver a more comprehensive and personalised service for each user. The platform also includes a community of experts offering support and allows users to rate their experience, which increases the platform’s accountability.
The company has ambitions of reaching many more children around the world and help to change the way children are schooled.
“Our vision is to build a vibrant ecosystem that enables more than 4 billion children around the world to access quality educational content and key services that will positively impact their lives, stimulate economic growth and create a ripple effect for the communities they live in. Part of this strategy is the implementation of what we are calling our ‘ambassadors of change’ programme, which will help us reach as many children as possible, especially disadvantaged children,” Owen tells us.
Growd’s future ambitions include a UK launch by 2021, with the aim of reaching around 200,000 more people on its platform. The team would also love to partner with organisations like Unicef to cement their efforts to increase access to education for every child and help raise awareness of the invaluable work they are doing.