We live in a time where we cannot under-emphasise the importance of Education in building the Africa of our dream that has created solutions to solve issues like poverty, illiteracy, poor sanitation, malnutrition and so on. This means that young Africans need to aspire and pursue career paths in Arts, History, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in reputable schools either at home or abroad. However, there is a major issue concerning cost across the globe to get access to quality education and this is where ScholarX comes in.
ScholarX is an EdTech Company in Nigeria with a core focus on improving access to funds for education through creating and managing scholarships for young people who need them the most. They achieve this through a strong partnership pipeline aimed at increasing participation towards education funding, as well as fostering and growing the educational landscape in hard to reach communities in Africa. We had a chat with the Co-founder and CEO, Bola Lawal and he shared his thoughts on the journey.
What were the key experiences that led to the launch of ScholarX?
Our passion for ScholarX comes from our personal experiences. My co-founder, Maxwell Ogunfuyi, and I both had different experiences but similar challenges in funding our education. We wanted to help youths gain access to millions of opportunities globally and locally. Our passion for technology comes from the fact that both of us had worked in different sectors that leveraged the use of technology to solve problems.
Having won a couple of major recognitions in recent years, what would you say has been the driving force for the organisation?
We are grateful that people are getting to recognize what we do but the fact remains that a million African students are out-of-school today. Education is a basic need and African children are being deprived of it. So we made it our mission at ScholarX to provide these under-served students with funding opportunities. And even when the numbers change, we will continue to put in the work because no child deserves to be left behind.
How much influence do you envisage ScholarX can have on the educational system in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, we believe ScholarX would play a major role in how African students will source for funds. As it is, we are already leveraging the use of technology in providing solutions to schools. We make use of virtual reality, online assessment tools such as Kahoot and are creating more impact in the lives of these students.
We are also taking more steps towards helping graduates on the continent become more employable as plans are already in the works. And of course, we are trying to achieve all of this through the use of technology.
What specific opportunities is the startup looking to explore for underserved African youths?
We believe that Human capital is the best thing any nation can have. We have proof of this in the world today, all we need to do is look. And we have taken it upon ourselves to provide educational funding opportunities to student age 14-30 (irrespective of their background) through scholarships. So, ScholarX is looking to leverage the use of technology to provide an alternative means by which African youth can fund their education and up-skill graduates to make them ready for jobs of the future in the tech ecosystem.
Can you share an end to end brief of the user experience of a young person on ScholarX and the opportunities from the offerings?
On average, a young user on the ScholarX platform has a problem of financing education. He/she goes on to the website, registers and is allowed to choose one of the three options available to fund his/her education. The opportunities include; scholarship search, village/crowdfunding, and our scholarship management service. We have aggregated several scholarships from around the world where the user can select any of their choices and apply. On our village platform, users are allowed to create a crowdfunding project and ask for a donation from sponsors. And lastly, we offer scholarship management service to individuals that are looking for means to give back to their society and organizations involved in CSR programs. We shortlist students from our platform to be beneficiaries of such opportunities.
Any experience to share from the Next Billion Edtech Prize in Dubai on leveraging technology to solve problems in the education sector?
It was an amazing experience for me and it was also a privilege to be the only Ed-tech organization to be selected from Nigeria. Vikas Pota, the chairman of Varkey foundation said African entrepreneurs are leading the pack when it comes to innovating for education, I’m glad the world is taking notice of what we are doing in the continent. The event gave me the opportunity to meet with other industry experts, both in the education and technology sector, and we were able to share ideas.
Can you share more on innovations and solutions that could help to improve the access of young Africans to education in the sector?
I think for us to improve the access of young Africans to education, we must be willing to first observe the education sector and learn what is lacking. For one, the idea behind a formal classroom setting is outdated. African students should be able to learn without being within the four walls of a classroom. Beyond the walls of a classroom, knowledge can be acquired through online programs, virtual certification processes, and the likes. Also, we shouldn’t forget to shake up the financing model for education. Gone are the days of believing that the source of financing education should come from the mobilization of the domestic resource. We believe that we will stand to gain more when we democratize access to education.
Any other thought you want to share?
I believe that to innovate in education, one must listen and collaborate with other individuals and organizations because innovation takes time and it will be more impactful to travel in a group.