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Teacher AI: Turbo boost for global education

Teacher AI: Turbo boost for global education
Teacher AI: Turbo boost for global education

Sierra Leone, a developing country in West Africa with economic potential, faces a significant challenge: limited access to quality education. Poverty, impacting over 57% of the population, forces many children to work instead of attending school. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty despite a high workforce participation rate.

In 2018, the "Free Quality School Education" initiative aimed to improve access to education. However, the influx of students overwhelmed the system. The teacher-to-student ratio ballooned to 1 underqualified teacher for every 40 or more students.

Beyond low enrollment rates (around 40%), Sierra Leone's education system grapples with a shortage of qualified teachers. The surge in student attendance after the free education initiative exposed the need for more resources, space, and qualified educators.

This influx resulted in a scarcity of crucial one-on-one interaction between students and teachers, hindering personalized attention and effective learning. Further complicating the situation, one-third of teachers lack the necessary qualifications. Additionally, a significant portion (65.8% of girls and 44.4% of boys) fail to complete lower secondary school themselves, potentially limiting their teaching effectiveness.

Teacher.AI, an advanced artificial intelligence program, aims to empower teachers in under-resourced regions like Sierra Leone and provide students with a quality education. Technology integration in classrooms has been limited, with only 8% of schools having internet access. However, 86% of schools have 2G network coverage, making Teacher.AI's WhatsApp-based chatbot a viable solution.

This AI tool provides teachers with factual information, organizational resources, and support in answering student questions. Recognizing the financial constraints in hiring more teachers, Teacher.AI, in collaboration with EducAid, has developed a training program to implement the tool in classrooms across the globe, not just Sierra Leone.

In April 2023, EducAid trained 1,000 teachers to leverage Teacher.AI effectively. While initial regular usage remains low (around 10% of those trained), the program shows promise. Given the novelty of such technology in these regions, wider adoption may take time.

Poor education in Sierra Leone traps young people in a cycle of poverty, limiting job opportunities to low-paying manual labor. Conversely, proper education equips them with the skills to access higher-paying jobs, leading to financial stability and potentially reducing poverty rates. This aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

Educated individuals can contribute to economic growth and urbanization, benefiting businesses and the government. Moreover, they can advocate for improved education systems, empowering future generations to break the cycle of poverty. Investing in education empowers children to improve their lives and positively impact their communities – a crucial step for a brighter future in Sierra Leone and a more sustainable future for the global society.

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