18-year-old Truman Mabumbo has developed an automated WhatsApp Chatbot called Dzidzo Paden to disseminate academic resources to students currently studying the Zimsec syllabi in Zimbabwe.
Mabumbo, who is a lower 6th student at St Georges College, says this project is a vision where every Zimbabwean child has access to education.
Mobile data is quite expensive in Zimbabwe and Truman says he got the idea to develop the Chatbot during the COVID induced lockdown. He noticed that students from low-income families could not afford data to learn online like their peers from well-off backgrounds. This meant that these students were trailing behind.
Mabumbo then conceptualised the idea to develop a chatbot that works on WhatsApp. He then partnered with UNESCO, Zimsec and Amigo. UNESCO covered the costs of the project while Amigo provided content for the Dzidzo Paden chatbot.
The chatbot is different from online learning in that for online learning one needs data to access platforms like Google Classrooms and Google Meet.
This means that the child can download the resources once and use them for the duration of their studies (without using more data) or they can even print them. Mabumbo calls this ‘learning on the go’.
Speaking at the launch of the project an official from UNESCO Patricia Machawira said;
#Dzidzopaden will promote access to learning resources and ensure that #learningneverstops even in the face of pandemics such as #COVID19
WhatsApp is the most used app in Zimbabwe with over 5 million users. The app also accounts for close to 50% of internet data in Zimbabwe. This makes it quite accessible to a lot of school going kids.
To date, the Chatbot has accumulated over ten thousand users with over 2000 daily users and Truman expects it to grow exponentially due to its usefulness and accessibility.
RELATED STORIES: How To Apply For 2021 Form 1 Boarding Places On eMAP
How Do You Use The Dzidzo Paden Chatbot?
To use the Chatbot you simply send the message ‘hi’ to 0787 064 484 and the chatbot will respond immediately. It will ask you questions to register you in the system and then give you a menu of subjects.
You then choose the subjects you want and you download the learning and study material.
You can watch a video of Truman Mabumbo explaining about the chatbot below.