Barbara Mallinson Has Big Dreams For e-Learning In Africa

Zimbabwe's Startup Weekend is fast approaching and makes a specific call for participation from young children and women.

Author Jo Wilkinson, 04.09.14

Zimbabwe’s Startup Weekend is fast approaching and makes a specific call for participation from young children and women. With this in mind, we’re profiling five inspiring African women over the next five weeks who have made a mark in – and significantly advanced – the social tech scene in Africa and beyond.

There’s no better place to start off this profile series than with Barbara Mallinson, CEO and Founder of the social e-learning platform, Obami.

Barbara Mallinson teamed up with Ennis Jones to launch Obami in schools in 2010 to give millions of students a new way to learn. The site enables educators and students to connect digitally, share and access educational resources, as well as communicate and collaborate with a variety of different learning tools. It essentially creates an open, interactive space where equal education is key, and rich media content, social learning and mobile technologies all come to the fore.

Obami was borne when Barbara, originally from Cape Town, was inspired by the harrowing statistics surrounding South Africa’s education system. In an interview with ITWeb Africa, she says:

According to the World Bank, the country currently ranks 143 out of 144 in terms of its overall Maths and Science education standards. Other African countries are not too dissimilar. These sad statistics inspired me to try and make a difference to my home country and continent, and I saw this as an ideal opportunity to introduce a platform that would allow for any type of school (and its members) to benefit from emerging mobile and social technologies…”

Barbara has big dreams for e-learning in Africa. In 2012 she embarked on a mobile office road trip to understand more about the current state of education in South Africa, and how social and mobile technologies could help foster better learning. They met educators in all their various community seats, and asked important questions as to how they could help make South African education equal.

Since it’s launch in 2010, Barbara and her team have built a site that now hosts over 30,000 users, and have won a tonne of prestigious tech-based accolades to boot.

Barbara Mallinson is an inspiring woman in Africa’s thriving tech scene. Watch out for next week’s profile on Amolo Ng’weno, Managing Director of Digital Data Divide Kenya.

Calling All Zimbabwean Techies, Entrepreneurs and Activists!

Startup Weekend is heading to Harare in May, gathering together people for one marathon event to formulate and flesh out new, tech-based entrepreneurial ideas.

E-Learning: A Billion Year Journey

We have come a long way since our greatest tool for education was a cave wall and a sharp stone. Many children are now growing up in a world where they have a Facebook profile before they’re out of the womb, are learning the 5 Little Monkeys rhyme on an iPad, and reading about Winnie the Pooh via an interactive storybook rather than the hardcover versions their parents once treasured.