Field Stories

Open source education at eLearning Africa

Dprince SulaymanPermaculture Basics, Newborn Care for Professionals, How to Build a Computer or Preventing HIV for Girls – these are some of the courses that Berlin-based non-profit startup hopes will change lives.

by Georgia Gilson

As well as chairing a session on Engaging with MOOCs and another on Support for Sustainability at eLearning Africa, beginning on May 29th, attending the conference is also an opportunity for Allversity to do on-the-ground research with their new local partner Afrika Rise, a network of educational organisations in Uganda.

Together with Allversity they will work to ensure courses hosted on the platform reach the people who could make the most use of them. The Afrika Rise network includes projects like Soft Power Education and EDI College. The projects have a broad audience, work in many corners of the country, and are all based around education.

“We’ve had a great response from people in the US, Germany and India,” says co-founder Shane McMillan, “But with this trip to Uganda we want to ensure that the content and platform are optimised for people and communities in Africa who need access to good information and eLearning opportunities.”

Thus far Basic Photography has been the most popular course on, not just with Americans and Europeans, but with young people in Africa as well. In the growing digital economy students from Africa often emphasise how important the skill is for selling products online, gaining sponsors for social projects, and just documenting life.

Project manager for Allversity, Ysanne Choksey, says eLearning Africa will give the organisation the chance to meet people from across Africa who have insights into the communities that might benefit from Allversity.

“There are so many organisations and individuals at eLearning Africa who have a rich understanding of how eLearning is changing in Africa – and we want to stay on top of the trends to deliver what’s needed in terms of courses.”

“For us, it is all about the educational materials,” says Ysanne. “We’re committed to solving this complex puzzle: how do we get great online materials in the hands of people who need them?”

Now in its 9th year, eLearning Africa has provided many an opportunity for new startups – Allversity officially launched in September 2013 – to meet other partners who could potentially help them move forward and take their service to the next level.

“We’re working on an offline version at the moment,” says Shane. “It’s going to take a little while to be ready, but considering Internet access is still so minimal in African countries, we hope it can do wonders.”

Shane McMillan and Ysanne Choksey from Allversity will be chairing sessions at eLearning Africa, which begins on May 29th in Kampala, Uganda.

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