Mr. Kago Kagichiri
Co-founder of Eneza Education
“Science can be done by anyone,” declares tech wizard Mr. Kago Kagichiri, Co-Founder of the social enterprise Eneza Education. This is a fundamental concept for Mr. Kagichiri, cemented by his own frustration with regimented academia. He has always gravitated towards technology and IT, something he believes was cemented by his father opening a cyber cafe in 1994, the first of its kind in his neighborhood. He performed at such a high level in high school that he was offered a part time staff position when he was still a student at Starehe Boys’ Centre and School, providing technical support to the school. This building up of his confidence outside of the classroom was key to his later success and therefore a philosophy that Mr. Kagichiri thinks should be more common.
Mr. Kagichiri describes Eneza Education as a safe place for students to ask not just questions, but nuanced questions. Eneza then provides them with, “the tools to make their own decisions.”
He is proud to say that destigmatizing failure by getting the students to take as many quizzes as possible has had the positive effect of freeing the students to ask more questions in the classroom. Essentially, he believes that education should be more fun and accessible and that remaining stuck in traditions and fearful of the use of technology in education is stifling potential.
Eneza is a virtual tutor that is accessible by SMS as well as online messaging and online platforms. It purposefully targets students in rural Africa and is therefore mindful of the difficulties of internet access. A byproduct of using Eneza is the familiarity it gives students with operating technology, which Mr. Kagichiri stresses is of vital importance. “I want kids to be excited about tech,” he argues, because the future is in technology. He predicts that very soon, there will be no department or industry that will not be affected, influenced by and actively using technology.
In 2016 Mr. Kagichiri’s team launched a campaign where they marketed Eneza exclusively on local radio stations across the country in order to directly appeal to parents of school age children. Eneza’s researchers have found that some parents who are unable to have their children in school year round are willing to invest in Eneza in an effort to close the gap. It is also useful in addressing the severely high rates of adult illiteracy in Africa. They have expanded into Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and continue to build upon the systems and philosophies that they created in Kenya.
Overall Mr. Kagichiri believes that Kenya needs to overhaul its education system. He advocates for increased apprenticeships as well as more tech inclusion that will involve young people in their own education. As it is now, he wonders about the consequences of continuing to stifle brilliant young minds by forcing them to learn in constrictive environments that have been proven not to be successful for different kinds of learning. Whatever the future holds, Eneza is only on its first step in its journey to tackle the shortcomings of the continent’s education systems.