Rekindle Learning is an innovative company founded by Rapelang Rabana in South Africa. She is a successful entrepreneur, and also been named a “Global Shaper” by the World Economic Forum.
Rapelang Rabana believes it needs to be taken a radically different approach in the way we learn things, and this is exactly what she is doing with Rekindle Learning.
People get empowered by learning: they go through a path of personal and professional growth which is essential for development in Africa. Rekindle Learning could play a relevant role in this.
To find out more about how different is Rekindle Learning compared to other services we spoke with Rapelang Rabana. Let’s see what she has to say…
What inspired you to start Rekindle Learning?
Rapelang Rabana: I was born in Botswana where I spent the first few years of my life, finished primary and secondary school at Roedean in Johannesburg and then went on to study at the University of Cape Town.
I accidentally found myself in a Computer Science program at the University of Cape Town. Having failed to negotiate a GAP year with my parents, my older brother relished in the task of choosing something for his sister to study, and he chose a B. Business Science (Computer Science) degree.
While it felt like a practical joke at my first lecture, I eventually came to appreciate the inherent imaginative power of software, and I was hooked. That developed into a deep curiosity, to see how we use technology to address socio-economic challenges.
I started Rekindle Learning about 4 years ago. After thinking about which industry I would next like to apply my knowledge of mobile and internet technology to, learning and education was a clear winner. The amelioration of the skills deficit in SA, as well as Africa as a whole, is desperately needed and I believe that therein lies an opportunity for me to both create a thriving business and contribute to my society in a lasting and impact full capacity.
It just took a while to identify a viable and sustainable business model in the sector. The power of education to mold and effect change in any population cannot be denied and I aim to give as much momentum to this movement as is possible.
The idea for Rekindle Learning was sparked by my own journey. I had a great education. I could ask as many questions as I wanted, do assignments or past papers and almost always get comprehensive feedback. Despite all this privilege I often wondered about some of the inefficiencies in my learning process. After a test, I would briefly look at the script. I would browse through the ones I got wrong and promise myself to look over them again at some point, but that rarely ever happened. Some of the questions I got right I would look at with surprise and be silently grateful for my luck. It was generally hard to keep track of the parts I got wrong or relied on dumb luck to get right, so I would just forget about it altogether.
Rekindle Learning was born out of the thought that this could be different. What if there was a system that kept track of my errors and brought me back to them until I got them consistently right? What if it could double-check or triple-check even the ones I got right and if my luck ran out on another attempt, force me back to those questions again? What if I could do all this without increasing the burden on the teacher, in my own time, wherever I was?
This thinking inspired the micro-learning tool we provide for companies and educational institutions that is all about interactive learning, using questions, and personalized learning path that adapts to focus on your weak areas.
In what kind of activities is Rekindle Learning involved?
R. R. : Rekindle Learning is an innovative learning & development company providing mobile and computer learning applications that enable a broad range of knowledge to be quickly entrenched and mastered.
This includes corporate training and ongoing learning as well as school learning. While the interest in eLearning is growing rapidly, most of the time organizations just put PDF files and Slides online and call it eLearning. I believe there is a gap for solutions that significantly improve the efficiency with which learn – all while catering specifically for mobile devices in bandwidth constrained environments.
In companies, we empower organizations to transform PDF, power-points and other static content into our micro-learning methodology. Through us, organisational knowledge on compliance & regulations, or sales & products, or corporate strategy, can be rapidly packaged in digestible chunks, to reach hundreds of people in geographically dispersed areas.
For schools and universities, we have focused fundamental skills, starting with English communication. Proficiency levels in English of high school and university students is well below the required levels for academic performance and professional success because of a highly challenged education system. Our online tools here, provide a abridging program for young adults who to improve their command of English. People who want to gain an edge and learn easily, they can utilize supplements that provide benefits such as Improved Learning Ability.
How many people have used Rekindle Learning so far?
R. R. : Last year, we provided access to close to 8,000 users, across universities and corporate employees, so we still have a long way to go. Progress is still slow, but much better than it was 3 years ago. Now terms like micro-learning, digital learning are becoming more common place which makes more organisations more willing to try new ways of learning.
What kind of impact do you wish to have on people?
R. R. : In the next 10 years, I would like to see Rekindle Learning as a center of learning, enabling people to build knowledge from the palm of their hands. From school children, to young high school graduates needing new opportunities, to entrepreneurs, to women farmers. I believe that one of the greatest drivers of data usage in 10 years on the continent will not just be entertainment and social media but educational, training and learning content, and I want Rekindle Learning to be at the crux of that.
What do you think needs to be done to have more women entrepreneurs like you in Africa?
R. R. : It is an obvious fact that women occupy a very small percentage of strategic position in the community. The gap is nothing short of staggering and has to be addressed at the core – the socialization of young girls that predisposes them away from sciences, engineering, mathematics and ultimately technology.
I expect that I largely escaped this socialization because my own mother was an electrical engineer and aviation specialist and the extent of male-dominance in industries is something I only became aware of much later in life. The fundamental issues therefore are not really ‘IT specific’ but how we raise young women.
Other aspects are environmental. Organizations need to remove their glasses and open their recruitment to seek women. The human mind sadly sees want it wants to see, and many organisations continue to believe that there are no women to bring in. And one woman in a team is far from enough – for real change you need a critical mass of at least 30% representation.
What are your thoughts about the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)?
R. R. : The SDG’s point us to important development criteria. When it comes to solving for the goals, I believe the core of the issue is increasing economic participation because if more people were brought into the economic loop, they would be empowered to solve their problems and pull the services they need – healthcare, food, energy etc. And it when people pull services instead of being pushed things someone else thinks they want, will we see sustainable change.
Rekindle Learning, through its focus on skills and capabilities, is about removing the barriers that stop people from being economic participants.