Learning turned into child play

Sema Run app takes the drab out of studying by helping children improve their literacy skills by playing an interactive mobile game set in a magical land

Harriet James @PeopleDailyKE

Have you ever wondered how to get your children interested in learning instead of spending time on your mobile phone? Well, Kukua, a start-up company on a mission to eradicate child illiteracy in sub-Saharan Africa, has come up with a mobile app, Sema Run, which aims at making children improve their literacy skills as they play an interactive mobile game.

They have partnered with Airtel Africa to distribute the application. The app is efficient, engaging culturally relevant, and is designed to assist children effectively learn the letter sounds. World literacy experts, educational specialists as well as cognitive psychologists designed the literacy pedagogy, which is employed by the app. Sema, the main character, takes children on a magical adventure and also empowers them to learn how to read.

This she does as she gains technological powers that enable her to navigate through every challenge she faces. This interactive app covers all letters and sounds to enable children learn how to read, offering them a fun way to practise the letter sounds that they have learnt in school. In addition, it provides immediate feedback and end of level assessments for the children.

Once downloaded, the app works offline hence users can utilise it without requiring internet connectivity, making it pocket-friendly.

“We combine education and gaming to make our app the perfect activity that keeps children busy doing something meaningful,” says Kukua’s co-founder and CEO, Lucrezia Bisignani.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) global monitoring report, basic writing and reading skills, will uplift 171 million people out of poverty, effectively removing 12 per cent of the world’s population out of  poverty. Today, 250 million children – 200 million of who attend school – are still illiterate.

In sub-Saharan Africa, where two thirds of illiterate children are located, 67 per cent of students drop out before finishing primary school, and another 20 per cent graduate illiterate. Literacy skills are fundamental to personal empowerment, critical thinking, and active participation in the local and global social community. In addition, the gains of literacy include economic growth, improved health conditions and gender equality.

Kukua is a start-up company leveraging on new media and technology to empower children to learn through magically engaging experiences. They aim to have a world where any child can have access to learning through an engaging, rigorous and personalised education. Their games are designed around their end users, in this case, the children and every prototype is constantly field-tested to optimise game dynamics, educational and engagement outcomes.

“We are a dedicated team of mission-driven entrepreneurs, game designers, cognitive psychologists and educational experts fuelled by the research that shows how acquiring even basic literacy and numeracy can change a child’s entire life trajectory,” says the CEO.

Through game-based learning, the organisation intends to create highly motivating learning environments, which allow learners to be actively engaged in the learning process. Moreover, children can learn at their own pace, get a lot of practice in a context where practice is not boring and achieve specific learning goals.

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