On a mission to make learning visual, meet Brian Ouro, 25
Having gone through the 8-4-4 system and experiencing his fair share of challenges, Brian Ouro, 25, sought to make learning easier for others like him. He found it difficult to concentrate on reading books and listening to teachers, especially if the content was only in text.
“When I was in school, I had a tough time getting by and paying attention in class. Even retaining what I learnt was not a walk in the park, but when it came to subjects that had a lot of visuals, I was able to grasp the content and eventually passed in those exams,” he says.
Ouro preferred learning things visually and interactively, as is the case when one is playing a game. However, at the time, he was forced to learn in the traditional way since he did not find any alternative. His comprehension challenges went on even in high school.
“It was not that I was stupid, but I had a really tough four years trying to wrap my mind around subjects. All I know is that I understood things a lot faster if they were visual,” he explains.
After high school, Ouro joined Shang Tao Media Arts, where he studied animation. “My stay at the school helped me a great deal . I honed my skill to create visuals and illustrations to not only tell stories but also solve problems,” he says.
He worked on his first educational game, Art of Flags, which provides users with information of different countries as they colour them. The app has 3,650 downloads to date. The app did not do well financially, but made him interested in online games and interactivity. It also spurred him to create a primary school-based game with online capabilities.
He crossed paths with eMobilis, a mobile technology institute that equips students with skills on how to create software, apps and content for mobile handsets.
“While there, I remembered my challenge in the classroom and decided to make learning easier as my project. Eventually, I designed my application, K CPE Kalamu App,” Ouro adds. KCPE stands for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kalamu is the Kiswahili word for pen. The personnel at eMobilis were impressed with Ouro’s work.
The revision application, which can be found on Google PlayStore, has a user-friendly interface. “Once you download it, get through the simple and guided sign-up process, you can access revision papers for all subjects going as far back as the year 2000,” he says.
The app’s home screen looks like an exercise book, which goes a long way in making a user feel like they are perusing a book. That is Ouro’s whole idea; to make revision fun and interactive.
Activated and interested
Upon successful login, the exam papers are on display and to access the questions, a user pays a fee of Sh150 monthly subscription, after enjoying a month on free trial. “That amount helps host it on the store and also pays me,” Ouro adds.
Getting to this point was not easy for the tech head. “Coding is not easy and it takes long hours. And after coding, I needed to market the app, and that was not easy. No one tells you actualising a project is hard, but, by and by, people get wind of what I am doing and endorse the application for their children,” he reveals.
Even tougher was how he could get the average primary pupil to use his application instead of gaming apps. “I had to ensure they would be intrigued and that they retain and use it,” he explains.
Some features the app comes with include a graphical representation of performances for each subject, ability to share the performance scores with other pupils and friends as well as daily challenges to keep the student engaged and activated.
The positive feedback and reviews keep Ouro going. “I look forward to engineering more applications that will make life better, but for now, I am bent on changing the primary education system, one download at a time,” he concludes.