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L’éducation, secteur phare des futures licornes du continent africain?

Il y a dix ans rien ne laissait soupçonner le bouillonnement actuel de l’entrepreneuriat en Afrique. Le succès est tel qu’un néologisme a été créé pour décrire ce nouvel acteur de l’économie continentale: l’afropreneur. Les cyniques y voient la nécessité de trouver des débouchés à une jeunesse de mieux en mieux éduquée qui constitue les gros bataillons d’africains sans emploi: 60 % des jeunes africains de moins de 25 ans étant au chômage. Quoi qu’il en soit, les initiatives pour encourager l’entrepreneuriat se multiplient, et la carte des incubateurs africains est édifiante.  Parmi les secteurs favoris des start-ups africaines qui émergent, la fintech, les énergies renouvelables, le digital et l’éducation. Le blog Enko fait un point sur les tendances qui se dessinent parmi les start-ups de l’éducation en Afrique.

L’éducation de la population du continent le plus jeune du monde, l’Afrique compte 400 millions de jeunes de moins de 16 ans, est une nécessité vitale.  Elle est la seconde priorité du panel africain interrogé par Afro-barometer. Cependant, après les périodes d’ajustement structurel des budgets gouvernementaux de bon nombres de pays d’Afrique Sub-saharienne pendant les années 80, les budgets consacrés à l’éducation ont été réduits à portion congrue. Dans la plupart des pays africains, les systèmes éducatifs répondent mal à la pression démographique et aux attentes de classes moyennes en constitution plus exigeantes sur la question que ne l’étaient leurs parents. Si l’accès à l’éducation s’est améliorée, beaucoup de jeunes étudient dans des classes surchargées et mal équipées qui les préparent mal à affronter le marché du travail.

Le WEF for Africa qui s’est tenu en mai 2017 à Durban a d’ailleurs consacré une session au sujet présentant des initiatives menées dans les pays du sud allant de création de vidéos d’edutainment, de sous-titrage de programmes TV pour améliorer l’alphabétisation des adultes, aux écoles Bridge (écoles low cost financées par la Fondation Bill Gates et par Facebook), et à la mission organisée par le BCG pour dynamiser les écoles du secteur public dans l’état de l’Haryana en Inde. Les besoins dans le secteur éducatif sont importants et variés. Les entrepreneurs ne s’y sont pas trompés et un certain nombre d’entre eux ont décidé de tenter l’aventure dans ce secteur.

Les start-ups de l’éducation sont les chouchoutes des Agences de Développement et des grandes fondations philanthropiques internationales car elles permettent de concilier plusieurs impératifs. Certaines start-ups sont des entreprises sociales et investir dans l’éducation promeut un développement à long terme puisque c’est un investissement dans les générations futures. Les start-ups utilisant le digital sont les plus nombreuses du fait des opportunités créées par la digitalisation et de leur faible besoin en capitaux (au moins au début). On peut classer les start-ups oeuvrant dans l’éducation dans plusieurs catégories.

  • Les start-ups qui s’adressent directement aux élèves où aux étudiants, en leur proposant des cours particuliers, des approfondissements de cours, des révisions des examens, des mises en relations avec des pairs qui pourront leur donner des conseils. C’est le secteur du e-learning, visant les rejetons des classes moyennes urbanisées qui ont les moyens de payer un abonnement ou des cours particuliers.
  • Les start-ups qui viennent en support des enseignants des systèmes publics en proposant des solutions pour optimiser leurs enseignements, plateformes de soutien de leurs cours, analyse des performances et des progrès de leurs classes, etc.. (Cf l’entretien d’Adrien Bouillot créateur de Chalkboard Education à paraître sur ce blog).

On ne peut que se réjouir de ces bonnes volontés qui se pressent pour profiter des possibilités immenses que représentent les défis de l’éducation en Afrique. Cependant, comme le fait remarquer Tom Jackson sur le site Disrupt Africa, si l’on peut facilement s’enthousiasmer sur ces marchés potentiellement immenses et quasiment vierges, la révolution digitale dans l’éducation sur le continent se heurte à quelques éléments (infra)structurels. Certaines parties de l’Afrique sont encore soumises à des approvisionnement hasardeux à l’électricité (620 millions d’africains n’auraient pas accès à l’électricité selon l’African Development Bank). Le taux d’équipement en téléphones mobiles, ne signifie pas que la majorité des africains disposent d’un smartphone ou d’une tablette. L’accès à Internet est loin d’être généralisé. Lorsque l’accessibilité technique n’est pas un problème, le coût de la data reste exorbitant et inabordable pour une grande partie des africains. Enfin le taux d’alphabétisation digitale est très bas pour les raisons que l’on vient de citer.

Les solutions digitales n’offrent que des solutions partielles, répondant à un problème particulier, rapiéçant une partie du système. Il manque une réflexion holistique sur l’innovation dans l’éducation qui devrait être impulsée par les gouvernements africains et qui ne soit pas seulement le résultat d’initiatives parcellaires proposées par des acteurs privés, quelle que soit leur bonne volonté.

D’autres start-ups n’ont pas joué la carte du digital et ont décidé d’investir des marchés de niche, en créant physiquement des écoles privées, qui répondent à des demandes que le secteur éducatif traditionnel ne prend pas en compte. C’est le pari qu’a lancé Enko Education  en Afrique Sub-saharienne avec ses écoles internationales abordables, qui préparent les lycéens africains à intégrer les meilleures universités mondiales.

Alors les “licornes africaines”, ces start-ups qui lèvent des centaines de millions de dollars et seraient promises à un succès planétaires seront-elles dans le secteur de l’éducation? Rien ne permet de l’affirmer.  Mais l’éducation reste cependant un secteur où ceux qui cherchent un investissement qui a du sens. Car comme l’a écrit Joël de Rosnay: “L’éducation est au centre de toutes les stratégies de construction de l’avenir. C’est un enjeu mondial, un des grands défis du troisième millénaire.”.

Vous voulez en savoir plus sur les activités d’Enko Education? Cliquez ici!

 

 

Conversation with Ayanda Booi, a young Enko recruit with grit, heart & art

As part of its social responsibility policy, Enko funds the tuition fees of a number of deserving students in each of its schools. Last November Enko organised a selection session with World Vision, an NPO that works with communities to improve children’s well-being. They were helped by Ayanda Booi, a youngster who has created an NPO to help young people in the township through performing arts workshops. The selected students visited Enko Ferndale on the 9th of March, to get an impression of their future school. We asked Ayanda, who has now joined Enko headquarters, to tell us more about his career, his commitment to the Orange Farm Township youth, and the Enko project.

Can you tell us about where you come from and what you did in Orange Farm?

I originally come from Soweto, but I moved to Orange Farm years ago. Orange Farm is a township south of Soweto, on the road to Bloemfontein. I created my NPO because a lot of youngsters did not do anything after school, there were no facilities where they could be taken care of, so they hung around, and some of them ended up in gangs. In Orange Farm, there is this big issue of Initiation Schools, where kids are abducted at a very young age from their parents who are then asked to pay tuition for initiation school. But these illegal schools are the pathway to gangsterism. I wanted to offer an alternative. As I have always been passionate about performing arts, I started an organisation in 2015. I thought teaching performing arts to them would also allow them to develop their life skills. We had workshops where we would study dance, music, poetry, drama. The big challenge was to find spaces where we could gather and practice. We often practised in dumping spaces, as there were no other places we could meet. As of January 2017, we had 84 kids aged from 6 to 18 years old in our organization, at three main locations. As performing arts are not very popular with boys, I had mainly girls. Boys in the townships are more interested in football… Over the two years we have been operating, I have been developing partnerships and joint events with other NPOs to give a chance to my kids to perform in front of audiences. That is how I met with the people of World Vision.

How did you hear about Enko?

The people from World Vision told me about the Enko selection tests for scholarships to Enko Ferndale, for students in grade 7/8/9. I looked at the prerequisites, asked my kids for their (grade) reports and I sent the pupils that could qualify. I had ten kids, but two of them had parents who would not let them try the test. So, World Vision helped me organize transport for eight kids to where the examinations were held. I guess Enko did not realise how attractive their offer was. There were 135 kids attending the session! The test consisted of written tests in English, science and mathematics. Pupils who achieved high scores in these tests had an interview with an Enko representative. As I had helped with the process, I was asked to come and help them to finalize the selection. 15 kids were selected and awarded a scholarship to attend Enko Ferndale. I had to go to the families, explain to them how it would work and then interview them and send the report back to Enko. I act as the “liaison officer” with the families.

Tell me about the event on 9 March?

The event theme was “unlocking your potential”. It was a pre-orientation day at Enko Ferndale. It was difficult for them to realise that they will be only starting in September. We took them to visit the school. They were able to see how it looks like. They had a lesson there. They even got to learn some French which they repeated enthusiastically! They came to the headquarters afterwards . They met Enko’s heads of school and staff. They had career talks with young professionals. They quite enjoyed their day!

What would be the best education to unlock youth potential? Engage the conversation! Let us know your ideas and discover Enko Education.

“Mission Impossible”? Four points to take away from the Enko seminar

Opening six schools that offer an international curriculum, in four African countries, teaching and working in three different languages*, and achieving all this in record time…. that’s the challenge that Enko Education set itself on its creation in 2014. Now it’s time to get an update on this adventure, with those who have been part of it. At the beginning of March, the central team at Enko Education spent a week in Johannesburg with the six heads of the Enko schools – an historic occasion as it was the first opportunity for the teams to come together at a seminar.

An intensive session

The participants enjoyed a very busy programme, combining (a lot of) work with tours of the local area, designed by the central team. The objective of the workshop, which brought together participants from four different countries (Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique and South Africa) was to give the heads of school an opportunity to meet with each other and the central team, share their experiences from their schools’ first few years of operation, discuss success stories and challenges that they’ve encountered, and think about the next steps. There were also presentations from representatives of the international IB and Cambridge GCSE accreditation bodies and the participants had the opportunity to meet and talk with them, as well as with future scholarship students from Enko Ferndale.

Sharing experience

The heads of school shared the best practices that they have established since their schools were set up. As Enko la Gaieté is the longest-standing of the Enko schools, its head presented the strategies rolled out to help students in the final year of their Diploma Programme to gain admission to the best universities (find out more here).  The head of Enko Nyamunda in Mozambique talked about the teacher recruitment process. The heads of the Enko schools in Ivory Coast discussed the implementation of bilingual education and the head of Enko Bonanjo tackled the subject of recruiting students.

The opportunity to meet “face-to-face” with people who are often only names in the “To” field of emails was beneficial for everyone involved, and the participants were able to build and reinforce their relationships, achieving a greater level of mutual understanding and cohesion between the heads of school and the central team.

The tours

Johannesburg, or eGoli in isiZulu, has no shortage of attractions, so the participants were able to go on safari in Pilanesberg, see the famous musical “Sarafina”, and sample the huge variety of culinary delights available in the City of Gold.

A beneficial week

The discussions provided the opportunity to see how far we’ve come over the last few years in this entrepreneurial and educational pan-African adventure. The participants were able to truly appreciate the richness of an international and multi-generational team at Enko Education, and also understand the challenges associated with this level of diversity. Opening schools that offer international (and therefore very demanding) curricula, in so many different countries; working and communicating in three languages (English, French and Portuguese); achieving results quickly… these are the challenges that the Enko teams have been able to overcome.

The heads of school were able to appreciate that many of their problems are shared by the others, in terms of operational management and academic constraints. They were able to share the solutions they have implemented at a local level.

For all the teams contributing to the development of Enko Education, the discussions were hugely helpful. The week spent together reinforced the relationships between the heads of school, offering them a better view of the company strategy and a greater understanding of the various ideas behind it, and laying the groundwork for more conversations and discussions after they returned home. Those in the central team who have not had the opportunity to travel to the different sites were able to gain an understanding of some of the concerns at the different schools, and the progress made in overcoming local challenges.

It was definitely an experience to be repeated next year!

If you want to find out more about Enko Education, write to us at info@enkoeducation.com

*not forgetting all the other official languages of the different countries where Enko operates!