The education level among Tanzanian youth is low. Many, especially rural youth do not finish secondary education. Often, practical vocational education (often, if even acquired, through informal apprenticeship), is the only hope for attaining an income and improving their life. However, many disadvantaged youth, especially women and rural youth with low education level are lacking access to vocational education and training (VET), due to high costs and distance to training centre. This shortage is increased by the lack of suitable training material and equipment, as well as the lack of trained staff and reliable updated teaching and learning infrastructure. VETA (Vocational Education and Training Authority), in collaboration with the telecommunication company Airtel, has developed a mobile learning application (VSOMO), which provides theoretical skills through an app, followed by practical training in one of the national VETA training institutes. This innovative solution has the potential to train big numbers of youth, especially in remote areas. Unfortunately, the app has been little used until now, as several factors hinder its potential to be fully tapped. The goal of the project is to address these gaps to make it more attractive and successful.
VSOMO is the first project of its kind in East and Central Africa which facilitates the provision of Vocational Education Training (VET) through a mobile phone platform. The main goal is to accelerate youth employment in Tanzania by utilising interactive e-learning technology to deliver market-demanded vocational skills and increase digital literacy skills. The app offers a theoretical part for free, accessible 95% offline. For users living in remote areas with no access to a smartphone, the digital content can be accessed at a partnering digital hub. If the student successfully passes the exam, he or she can register to join the practical sessions in the nearest VETA centres. The courses will be improved through gamified, personalised and interactive learning content, reducing the amount of text readings to improve the motivation and knowledge transfer, but also increase digital literacy skills by specific tasks.
The project aims to develop gamification elements for at least three courses for increased interactive learning, including one entrepreneurship course. At least 50’000 youth (predominantly in Dodoma and Singida) will be informed about the platform via media (social media, radio, newspapers, etc.) campaigns and 10’000 download the VSOMO application to their phone. Thanks to the app upgrade, at least 600 youth should successfully finish the digital learning course and practical vocational course.