Inequality in access to technology and resources is one of the biggest challenges facing South African public schools.
In 2011, the Limpopo Education Department made headlines when it was unable to provide textbooks to students, which resulted in a public outcry about the violation of the basic right to quality education.
As a qualified electrical engineer, with a BSc and MSc from the University of Cape Town, Mushabe was inspired to do something to address this challenge and his company Lightbulb Education was born.
“Our students do not always have the access to textbooks, laboratories or trained educators,” he explains. “Furthermore, where they do have access, the quality is questionable. This is where we aim to plug the gap. Our platform allows students to engage with lecturers, tutors and professors from anywhere in the country. We have content in the form of videos, images, worksheets and slides, which are available at anytime.”
The platform is easy to use. Both students and tutors connect via the Internet from a mobile device or computer. The students are then able to view content, complete assessments, post questions or have live chats with tutors and lecturers.
Subscriptions start from R365 per month per subject, which gives students 24/7 access to the platform.
Mushabe adds that securing the funding for development and later for the marketing of the platform was a challenge, so he partnered with start-up accelerators and financiers the Innovation Hub, MLab and IDF Capital.
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“They have played a pivotal role in opening doors and facilitating the growth of the company thus far. We have had great success at both secondary and tertiary school levels. We tested the platform at the University of Cape Town with the Maths and Physics departments. Now we are focusing on continuing to build the brand and getting our message out in the public,” he says.
With some 30 tutors providing assistance to over 500 registered students, Mushabe says he would like to establish Lightbulb as a leading learning management system within the training and education technology space.
To young students across the country, he offers this advice: “If you believe you are adding value, then keep pushing through. Keep knocking on doors, one will eventually open.”