Statistics from UNESCO shows that sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest rate of education exclusion in the world. It has over 38 million out of school children (OoSC) with one-fifth of children between the ages of 6 and 11 out of school and one-third of youth between the ages of 12 and 14. Almost 60% of youth between the ages of 15 and 17 are also not in school. The gender gap in education across the region is equally problematic, and the disadvantage starts early. According to the data from UNESCO, 9 million girls between the ages of 6 and 11 will never go to school at all, compared to 6 million boys. Also, 23% of girls are out of primary school compared to 19% of boys, and by the time they become adolescents, the exclusion rate for girls is 36% compared to 32% for boys.
Language barriers, limited content delivery and inefficient administration in education also perpetuate exclusion. UNESCO’s 2016 global education monitoring report shows that 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language that they understand. This is the case in most countries in SSA where content is delivered either in English or French or a combination of both, and where many school age children struggle to learn in these official languages. Also, administrative tasks ranging from lesson planning to grading and maintaining student records take up much of teachers’ time. It is estimated that teachers worldwide spend less time (less than 50%) in direct instruction and engagement of students than in preparation, evaluation, and administrative duties. The problem is compounded by the high student-to-teacher ratio in some countries in SSA.
AI can be leveraged to address some of these challenges. For example, automating basic (and sometimes complex) administrative tasks will free up teachers’ time for teaching, lesson preparation and even professional development, enabling more teachers to engage not only with students within the formal education sector, but also those outside the system. AI can be used to innovate teaching and learning through content creation and delivery in the mother tongue or indigenous languages. This can contribute to basic literacy skills and overall positive outcomes for learners, whether they are within or outside the formal education sector. AI innovations that target girls, people living with disability, internally displaced people or other marginalised demographics can also facilitate inclusion and reduce gender and other forms of inequality in access to education.
The EduAI hub is an African based research network on responsible artificial intelligence innovations that seek to advance education across Africa. The EduAI hub is located within the University of Lagos main campus. The Hub network presently comprises the University of Lagos, Université d’Abomey Calavi, a foremost national university in Benin Republic, and Data Science Nigeria (DSN). The activities of the hub will be centred on AI innovation and research in the education sector across Anglophone and Francophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will focus on three thematic areas: inclusion, language, and administration.
The call is focused on three thematic areas: education, inclusion and language barriers.
Education Administration – Grants for design, development, and evaluation of Artificial Intelligence technologies for educational administration (admission and counselling), educational leadership and administrative functions relating to teaching and learning.
Inclusion – Grants for development of AI solutions that tackle exclusion, disparities and inequalities in education and learning outcomes across sub-Saharan Africa
Language Barriers – Grants for Artificial Intelligence innovations that address language barriers in education.
Selected projects will receive between US$30,000 and US$45,000 depending on the scope, scale and budget.
The duration of each project is to be no more than 18 months.
Universities, research institutes, legally incorporated small and medium enterprises and technology-based hubs, civil society and non-governmental organizations in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Applicants can choose to team up with other collaborators outside the SSA countries, however the lead organization MUST have its headquarters based in SSA and the balance of the team should be in SSA as well.
The lead applicant must be headquartered in a country in sub-Saharan Africa, as per the country classification of the World Bank and the balance of the team should be in SSA as well. Eligible countries include the following: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
No. An organization can submit a maximum of one application as a Lead Applicant. For large organizations (e.g., universities), different departments or faculties within the same institution may be considered different as Lead Applicant Organizations. An organization may apply as a Co-Applicant Organization on multiple applications.
The Lead Applicant is the organisation that will assume responsibility for the administration of grant funds and will take the overall lead in coordinating the research activities. The Lead Applicant is responsible for developing and administering sub-grant agreements with their project partners (such as Co-Applicants).
Individuals can not apply for this call for EoI. Project funds shall only be released to institutions and not directly to individuals.