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Students step in with application to unravel varsity course selection

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Photo/Phoebe Okall  University of Nairobi students writing an exam at Taifa Hall. ChaguaPlus is an app that has been created to help students and parents evaluate all their choices before settling on a course. It provides details on curriculum to help in career decision-making.

Photo/Phoebe Okall University of Nairobi students writing an exam at Taifa Hall. ChaguaPlus is an app that has been created to help students and parents evaluate all their choices before settling on a course. It provides details on curriculum to help in career decision-making.  

By MUGAMBI MUTEGI

Posted  Wednesday, March 14   2012 at  18:05

In Summary

How ChaguaPlus works:

  • The developers will source information from Kenyan universities.
  • They will create institutional profiles, which will be stored on the application.
  • This data will be available to students of these institutions for them to grade the profiles.
  • Researchers and lecturers will have a portal on which they can post studies for critique by colleagues and partnerships.
  • Students choosing a course or college will access the curriculum on phone or computer.

The students say they have already started sourcing for the information and plan to launch the application in Nairobi in June.

Mr Audi estimates the total cost of the project will be more than Sh600,000 with most of the expenses accruing from sourcing the content.

The team, however, says amassing a detailed portfolio may prove difficult since some universities view such openness as potentially exposing them to the competition.

“Since the information to be uploaded will include a detailed breakdown of courses, some institutions fear that this will afford rival universities a chance to tailor their courses better,” said Mr Audi.

University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor George Magoha agrees that since universities are in a state of pseudo-competition it is only natural that most will be apprehensive about giving information freely.

“They can access UoN’s summarised curriculum online and thereafter reinforce their database by adding information attained from attending open days which are now organised by a majority of the local universities,” said Prof Magoha.

The innovator’s problem could, however, be solved given that the ministry of higher education in conjunction with the Kenya YearBook have started a ranking system for public universities which will also include the creation of a similar database.

“There is so much information about the education sector but very little of it has been properly publicised. At Sh50, we will not only make the information available, but do so at an affordable price,” said Denis Chebitwey, the CEO for Kenya Yearbook Board.

The survey will be conducted in conjunction with research firm Synovate.

The ChaguaPlus application has already attracted its fair share of accolades.

Last year, the application was ranked second in a competition organised by MIT-Africa Information Technology Initiative (MIT-AITI) summer programme.

It was runners-up in the Global Social Venture Competition - Africa region gala in November 2011.

The team also represented the continent in the Asia-Africa Global Social Venture Business Plan Competition held at the India Business School (IBS).

Although they did not emerge top, Mr Okwero says they gained from interacting with fellow innovators from across the world.

Mr Okwero’s views on why many apps fade into oblivion soon after they are launched.

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