Ali Khatau, 22-year old tech entrepreneur, medical student and health writer based in Dar es Salaam. is the Founder & CEO of ElimuTanzania, an online platform that provides educational content for secondary school students to help them perform better in their examinations. He also writes articles on health related topics for some of the biggest newspapers and websites in Tanzania and is a strong believer in the impact of technology and how it can transform lives.
Your mission at ElimuTanzania is to provide free and top quality online educational content for secondary school students across Tanzania to enable them to perform better in exams. Why is this important to you?
We here at ElimuTanzania strongly believe in the power of a good education and how it can transform the life of an individual. We believe that good education can open minds and is a very effective way to uplift people out of poverty. We also believe it is very essential to support students by providing them with these resources, including past exam papers and free online tests, so they can assess themselves and be better prepared for their examinations, thus leading to better results. As the saying goes, ‘the youth are the future of a country’. We believe an educated young generation have higher potential
to change the country, and so we advocate for quality education.
Why do you think that new technology and in particular, the internet have the power to transform education in Tanzania?
Because the internet is a very cheap and effective mode of delivering information to people. As the world advances, online learning eventually will become mainstream and we believe due to the constantly increasing internet penetration in Tanzania, we can reach millions of students in a very short amount of time. We also believe learning through online resources promotes
computer literacy among students, a skill which is very important in the workplace for almost any modern career path. Latest reports indicate that there were around 17.3 million internet users in Tanzania in 2015, a number which is rapidly growing with increasing GDP and rising income levels. We want to take advantage of this rising internet penetration to benefit students by providing them with resources.
Why is it impossible to carry out your mission offline?
Because we can distribute learning materials to thousands of students much more easily, rather than manually distributing the materials. Using the internet, we can save a lot of time, money and can reach a massive audience compared to functioning offline. Using manual techniques would simply be too tiresome, expensive and would take much more time than using online technologies. Also as technology becomes more advanced, we believe online education will become the norm instead of offline education and thus, we would like to lead this transformation in Tanzania.
Since launching one year ago, ElimuTanzania now averages 2,000 users per month
What challenges have you struggled most with and how have you overcome them?
In the beginning, funding was the most difficult challenge for us, we had various expenses but had no income sources. I initially made use of my personal savings and in a few months, we managed to find a sponsor who supported us from then on. We also found it difficult to attract users to our platform since it was fairly unknown at the time; we overcame this by advertising our website through local newspapers and popular websites to spread awareness among the Tanzanian community, especially among students.
What impact is ElimuTanzania already having?
We have had more than 20k users since we started around a year ago and we currently average more than 2000 users a month. We have received many positive reviews from students regarding our platform and this keeps motivating us to work harder. Apart from the online platform, we also regularly do community book donations and we have already donated 350 books worth around $2500 to NGOs and educational institutions with almost 1500 beneficiaries. Our impact is widespread with students from all over Tanzania using our platform from different schools and grades. Due to our significant impact, we have been featured in various local newspapers and have received support from various organizations to continue with our activities.
What’s next for ElimuTanzania?
We aim to be the biggest online education platform in Tanzania and to eventually provide educational resources for millions of secondary school students, impacting millions of lives and increasing examination pass rates and computer literacy rates all over the country. We plan to increase the quantity and quality of the educational content we provide, and we also plan to use various strategies to make more students aware of our services.