School closures due to COVID-19 affected 15 million students in Uganda. The pandemic has escalated educational disparities. While students from urban schools immediately switched to digital e-learning, students in rural communities were cut off from learning completely. This increase in barriers spurs the need for recovery programs like Yiya AirScience, to support the learning outcomes of young people with limited resources, including learning materials, teaching, smartphones or internet.
We enable rural Ugandan students of all ages to learn STEM remotely with widely accessible technologies: keypad phones and radios. We send content via robocalls and SMS and broadcast radio lessons weekly. The learners answer questions, complete homework, and take quizzes via Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), a real-time SMS system that is free for the user. The combination of audio and text is inclusive for low literacy learners and accessible to learners in all settings.
Yiya launched the 12-week pilot course in September 2020 with 30-minute radio broadcasts, six times a week, on two radio stations in Northern Uganda. The AirScience Program has reached over 25,000 users across the country. Using post-lesson SMS quizzes, we can measure knowledge retention. In our pilot program, we estimate participants built over 1,200 solar dryers using locally available materials, demonstrating their creativity, resourcefulness, and resilience.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).