Kenyan technology firm BRCK has announced a number of new initiatives which will see the router put to use to improve education, and digital literacy.
The BRCK is a rugged router designed for harsh environments with limited connectivity and power, able to hop between various sources of connectivity and with a built-in battery for use in the event of a blackout.
Originally conceived by Ushahidi, it was last year spun out as a separate entity and raised a US$1.2 million seed funding round to begin shipping the US$199 BRCK device.
The company has now announced a spin out of a new division of the business, BRCK Education, which will see the device put to use to enable online and offline learning.
The BRCK router is a WiFi access point, has an eight-hour battery-life, and has the ability to store up to two terabytes of educational content.
Nivi Mukherjee, co-founder of Kenyan edtech startup eLimu – which recently launched a free online educational resource covering the entire KCPE curriculum – has been named president of the new BRCK Education division.
“We are delighted to welcome onboard Ms Mukherjee who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to take over the Education division. Through this division, we aim to creatively and effectively deliver 21st century technology that will revolutionize the education sector and eventually take digital literacy in Kenya and in the African continent to the next level,” said BRCK board member Juliana Rotich.
Mukherjee said the next step will be to gather relevant and localised content to provide via the device.
“I am excited to join this great team that has demonstrated its ability to innovate effectively for Africa. I am privileged to be able to leverage this game-changing device, which will enable instantaneous access for up to 40 devices, to promote digital access in education. What remains now is to curate localized and culturally relevant digital content that will improve the learning experience and outcomes for millions of students on the continent,” Mukherjee said.
In a further education-oriented push, BRCK has also announced a partnership with Kenyatta University for the promotion of digital literacy across Kenya.
The partners on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which covers among other areas, joint collaboration in the design and development of innovative technological solutions, research, advocacy and stakeholder engagements, content development and training and capacity building.
“It is a great pleasure to partner with like-minded organisations such as BRCK with whom we have a shared vision and an appreciation of the role that technology can and should play in the overall education process. Both BRCK and Kenyatta University are at the forefront of developing and rolling out cutting edge digital solutions that will transform the way education is delivered resulting in an enhanced learning environment that offers competitive advantage in the workforce for the young people of Africa and generations to come,” said Kenyatta University vice chancellor professor Olive Mugenda.
Under the agreement, Kenyatta University will also host a manufacturing and assembly plant for the manufacture of tablets, to be used in educational institutions.
“We were the first university in the country to use tablets to deliver content to the students in the digital school. The tablets are very interactive with software that makes teaching easy and interactive. Following our partnership with BRCK, we hope to start a manufacturing plant to make cost effective tablets as well as scale up their use to other schools,” Mugenda said.