AI-driven Edustat to change Nigeria’s education sector – Akintunde Opawole

Akintunde Opawole is a data-AI product expert and the product manager at a Sidmach Technologies Nigeria Limited. He led the team that built the education statistics platform codenamed Edustat. In this interview with BusinessDay’s Frank Eleanya, he explained how Edustat will impact the education sector in Nigeria.

Can you tell us how the journey to building the platform started?

From a product development perspective, it started with understanding the clear vision of our partners, the potential users, their needs, and the market. This included lots of research and countless stakeholder meetings that gave birth to the product and the direction the product will go. The journey was a rollercoaster to be honest as we were excited to build something special by using data and artificial intelligence to solve problems in the educational sector.

At the same time, it was exhausting due to the amount of work we knew was to be done to bring this product to life. But I must mention that we were blessed with visionary partners, from the Head of National Office WAEC to the committee members, ICTD, finance, legal, and public relations amongst other critical stakeholders who made our job easier by supporting us at different levels and even at odd hours.

The journey was demanding as we built day and night all the required features, testing, taking feedback, and reiterating new features. There were lots of sleepless nights for sure, including team meetings in the middle of the night, demos, debugging and lots of learning but it was worth it.

As the product lead, how do you feel seeing the project coming live?

For me, it’s still surreal. I still can’t believe the public acceptance and reaction it has gotten since the launch. Even though this is one of many products I have worked on that has gone live, Edustat feels different. And so, I am happy but more importantly excited by the potential of the product, and the problems it will solve in the market.

What are the solutions EDUSTAT offers stakeholders in the education value chain Edustat offers?

Edustat is a data and Artificial Intelligence-driven analytics platform that offers rich and unique smart statistical insights into education and assessment in West Africa using historical and current data to provide detailed intelligence for stakeholders across the globe in a smart and easily accessible manner. It offers a variety of rich, interactive educational assessment statistics, and insights, in graphs, summaries, tables, trends and interactive dashboards for intelligence, research, and informed decision-making in just a few clicks.

We developed Edustat with ease of use in mind, so it was built for our users to easily sign up, and select the kind of report or intelligence they seek, with an array of filters to filter down the expected result by age, gender, demography, and even special needs amongst many other options of filters.

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Who would you say will be the biggest beneficiary of Edustat?

Everyone can benefit from Edustat, but I would like to highlight a few. Researchers/academics (PhD students, professorship, masters) – We all know It is usually difficult to access accurate data that cover education statistics in gender, disabilities, regions, male/female and other indexes. Researchers will have cause to smile because Edustat contains more than just statistical numbers; you are assured of infographics. We infused a summary of any insight or report you to generate using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

The opportunities are numerous. Governments at all levels – Federal, State, LGA; MDAs, are welcome to use Edustat. For instance, Kebbi State Government wants to assess the state’s performance in SSCE over the years. They can compare their State with other States for developmental planning, and interventions (in case the students are not doing well in certain subjects like English, Mathematics, etc). A State Government that pays WAEC fees its students would cherish having accurate data on their performances.

Funding Agencies – The World Bank, UNESCO, DFID, etc., who are looking for reliable data for interventions for scholarships, erect classrooms/ this will help for informed decisions.

Schools are not left out. Schools would want to know how they perform in WAEC; maybe for the bragging rights of 9As or other achievements. This will help them compare with other schools. They can track how their female students are performing; how the students (generally) are doing per subject; juxtapose their performance to others.

We have worked hard to integrate AI Predictive Modelling, so schools shall be able to predict how students will perform in future high school assessments – known as WAEC school exams.

Also, Parents who moved to new locations do not know which School to pick for their kids. Worry not; you can assess schools’ performance in WAEC through Edustat.

Private Corporate/Individuals – Any company that does anything on Education like uLesson, Edusko, will help them build, and scale up their products, contents, or solutions around subjects. They can ascertain how candidates perform in each subject in real time.

How does it work? Is it a web or app-based application?

It is a web-based application for now, but it can be assessed from any device, Laptop, Phone, Tablet etc. It is adaptive to any device and provides everyone with the same experience across all devices.

Is it a subscription-based product? If yes, how is the payment process?

It is a pay-per report-based product. What that means is that you only need to pay for the insight/report you are seeking per time. But again, with the ease of use in mind, we built the product with a wallet system that allows our users to fund their wallets with sufficient funds which allows them to pay for the statistics/reports/insights they seek by drawing funds from their funded wallet automatically.

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