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Nairobi-based tech firm launches 'classroom-in-a-box'

Kenya , 29 Sep 2015

Nairobi-based tech firm launches 'classroom-in-a-box'

BRCK Education, a division of local technology firm BRCK, based in Nairobi, has launched a value priced tablet that will be running web-based content and locally cached videos.

Dubbed 'BRCK - Kio', the tablet is one component of a game-changing portable kit.

The kit is made up of 40 BRCK Kio tablets; a BRCK (which is an internet connectivity device made for low infrastructure environments); wireless charging to reduce breakage, and a hardened, waterproof, lockable case for added security.

The kit and everything inside it is ruggedised to be both dust and water resistant.

Organisers behind the product launch say the custom-made tablet is designed for use by learners in harsh environments across rural Kenya where electricity is intermittent.

It can be used for 8 hours without power and is rugged enough to allow for occasional drops and spills.

Speaking at the official launch, the division's president Nivi Mukherjee 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. 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 memorising education content."

Mukherjee added that, "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."

In a statement BRCK Education said the BRCK Kio Kit provides a "digital classroom in a box" 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.

"The Kit is a simple, effective solution which requires minimal training or technical knowledge to setup and use. There is a single plug used to charge the kit and one button to power on the entire system," the statement reads.

BRCK chief executive officer Erik Hersman said, "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 Education has entered into partnership with several international and local organisations such as Kenyatta University, Pearson, Intel- Education and e-Limu, Know-Zone, e-Kitabu in an effort to refine the experience of accessing digital content.

While the BRCK Kio tablet and BRCK kit are currently manufactured abroad, there are plans to move the assembly and manufacturing operations to Kenya in order to reduce costs.

"We want to send the message that indeed Kenyans, and Africans in general, have the capacity and skills required to manufacture high-tech, world-class indigenous solutions to the challenges facing the continent and which can also be exported to the rest of the world. All that is required is a conducive environment to facilitate such companies to produce locally," BRCK founding team member Juliana Rotich added.

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