Mzuzu University – Alumnus, a Bachelor of Science degree in Library and Information Science holder, Pilirani Kumasewera, has developed an educational software containing learning materials for eight subjects for Malawi School Certificate Education (MSCE) students.The software dubbed as Padziwe Digital Library (PDL), has learning materials, review questions and answers, exam papers, study guides, tips and tool for the following MSCE subjects; Mathematics, English (Grammar), Biology, Physical Science, Geography, Chemistry, Life Skills, Bible Knowledge and Computer Studies.
PDL has been developed to help students to effectively master content in the way the learning materials are designed. The content is presented through a variety of media types which allow students to interact with them or visualize certain processes through video simulations.
There are flash and HTML5 animations, videos, audios, slideshows, graphics, and plain texts which all work together to make sure a particular topic is covered comprehensively and presented in an easy-to-understand manner to the student.
In an exclusive interview with The Maravi Post, Kumasewera said time has come for the country’s students and teachers to embrace and expose themselves to digital technology which is also cost effective and convenient.
Kumasewera says teachers can use the readily available PowerPoint presentations in PDL to deliver class instruction, eliminating the need for them to come up with their own that saves the teacher’s time and effort.
Pilirani hinted that with the coming of PDL, students will be exposed to the frequent use of a computer at an early level and as reasonable (for a Malawian setup) as junior secondary.
This will obviously mean a more knowledgeable student by the time they finally join tertiary level education
“It is common knowledge that students are easily bored and turned off when reading dead text and diagrams on print-based materials such as books. With PDL, however, learning becomes alive to students and their concentration span is bound to increase. The interactivity and visual presentation offered by animations and the videos make students to be actively engaged in the learning process.
“Our learning content is available offline. So no one needs to spend extra money for internet charges just to access the content. The content is strictly based upon the current MSCE syllabus. Schools with computer laboratories can install PDL in their computers so that students should study the materials. This would greatly supplement the often-inadequate print-based materials in their libraries.
“Books can be misplaced or lost, liquids can spill over them, they get worn out over time due to heavy use, and pages go missing, thereby requiring maintenance or, in the worst-case scenario, complete replacement. But that is not the case with PDL. Once the software is acquired in electronic format, one can keep it for life,” says Pilirani.
The former ICT Mzuni student has implored schools in Malawi to embrace the system saying the use of PDL is a giant step towards getting students and teachers get accustomed to the concept of computer-assisted learning which has gained substantial traction with positive results in many developed countries.
Says the 30 year-old entrepreneur, Pilirani;
“The software is being used to deliver MSCE lessons on Timveni TV by professional teachers from Foundation for Volunteer Services (FVS). Further to that, Lilongwe Nazarene Private Secondary School has also adopted this software and it’s installed in their computer lab.
“Additionally, in Malawi, life at tertiary level education demands knowledge and familiarity of the use of a computer by students. However, most students, save for the lucky few with computers in their homes, have the privilege of appreciating let alone operating a computer only when they get to college. Life then becomes a nightmare as they have to rely on others (e.g. computer lab assistants and colleagues) to help them among other things, prepare assignments,” he observed.
He therefore challenged young people to embrace entrepreneurship amid high unemployment levels rocking the nation saying he is a testimony of that.
“Entrepreneurship offers great challenges and this forces one to think outside the box. It builds your capacity to do more aside from that, if well managed. It offers you great opportunities to make more money than regular jobs. It also gives you the freedom you need to pursue other things that can bring real change in society.
“This is the reason the team and I still seek financial support to sell this system digitally and online so that schools should buy the locally made product and install PDL in their institutions. It’s affordable in all secondary school model of teaching. We therefore ask well-wishers and interested group on the software and the companies just visit us on http://www.padziwe.com,” said Pilirani.