Kenyan technology firm BRCK has unveiled a low-cost tablet running web-based content and locally cached videos, which also forms part of a kit, designed for use by standard one school students in areas with limited infrastructure.
Disrupt Africa reported in August BRCK announced a number of new initiatives through which BRCK products will be put to use to improve education and digital literacy. The company established a separate business division, BRCK Education, to lead these initiatives.
BRCK Education yesterday launched the new tablet, named the BRCK-Kio.
The company said the easy to use, custom-made tablets are designed for use by standard one pupils living in harsh environments across rural Kenya where electricity is intermittent.
The tablets can be used for eight hours without power, and is rugged enough to allow for occasional drops and spills, BRCK said.
“We are delighted to launch the Kio, which is a breakthrough solution that can run multimedia content and offers a lighter technology footprint with an intuitive interface designed for children,” said Nivi Mukherjee, BRCK Education division president.
“Through it, we are offering limitless opportunities to children who will be exposed to educational information and knowledge that is beyond the four classroom walls. The BRCK-Kio will not only pique children’s curiosity to learn and understand more but also go beyond memorizing education content,” she said.
“The BRCK-Kio will transform the role of the teacher from an instructor to a facilitator. We expect that this will have a powerful impact on the way education is delivered not only in Kenya but across Africa and other emerging markets.”
The BRCK-Kio also forms one part of a portable kit, the BRCK-Kio kit; which comprises 40 BRCK-Kio tablets; a BRCK router, wireless charging system, packaged in a hardened, waterproof, lockable case for added security. The company describes the kit as a “digital classroom in a box”.
The BRCK-Kio Kit provides a model that connects any school within range of a mobile phone tower to the internet, as well as provides locally hosted content to the Kio tablets within each kit.
“We wanted to take a holistic approach to education, hence the design of an easy to use digital solution that is uniquely tailored for the African environment. We are deploying a content-agnostic solution that allows us to curate localized and culturally relevant digital content that will improve the learning experience and give a digital edge to millions of children across the continent,” BRCK chief executive officer (CEO) Erik Hersman said.
The BRCK-Kio tablet and kit are currently manufactured abroad, but BRCK plans to move the assembly and manufacturing operations to Kenya in order to make more cost effective tablets. This will also allow BRCK to scale up their production for roll out across Africa.
BRCK Education has also signed an agreement with Chase Bank that will see it provide credit facilities to schools that are keen on leveraging the technology.
The BRCK-Kio kits are available for pre-order, and availability will begin in January 2016.