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Online platform turns laptops into classroom

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Serene Study platform
Pupil using Serene Study platform by techpreneur Jesse Muiru. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Techpreneur Jesse Muiru desired to tap technology to boost learning in schools. Thus, he created SereneStudy, a platform operating under his company, Cloud School Kenya.

The site, unveiled a year ago, seeks not only to provide quality education but also to make lessons exciting, with interaction between learners and teachers greatly enhanced.

A quick glance at the platform reveals a treasure trove of class notes, audio and video lessons, past papers and exams that are relevant to primary and secondary schools pupils.

For student to benefit, a parent needs to create an account on the portal where the learning material will be shared and exams administered.

Currently, SereneStudy serves an estimated 10,000 students countrywide in primary school – between Class Four and Eight – and secondary school (Form One to Four).

Most of the content on the site is accessible to learners for free. Others are paid for before they are downloaded. Payment is done through a digital wallet that is created when a pupil is first registered on the site.

Payable materials include past exam papers and marking schemes and are accessible on the premium segment of the portal. Each exam paper comes with 15 questions that are marked electronically.

To support slow learners, Mr Muiru has recruited 100 teachers to conduct remedial teaching online.

“We are aware that the 100 teachers we have currently can be overwhelmed if the site gets more students and this is the reason we are still recruiting more,” says the US-based techpreneur.

The idea, he says, is to ensure the teacher-student ratio on the site is in line with the globally accepted standards.

SereneStudy comes at a time when the government through the Ministry of Education has banned holiday tuition in public schools. It also comes in the wake of false starts in the government-sponsored tablets programme for primary schools. These tablets are supposed to have replaced remedial tuition.

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Mr Muiru says his platform makes internet useful to children instead of being just an idle tool entertainment.

“For those with children in lower primary children, they have to grapple with the demands to download games that suck the storage capacity of their phones to feed the entertainment needs of their children,” he says.

His platform is riding on the fast rising penetration of Internet and uptake of smartphones in Kenya.

Statistics from the Communication Authority shows that smartphones penetration has burst the 40 million mark and are now the biggest platform through Kenyans access the internet.

Mr Muiru says his dream is to see every Kenyan child reap the positive benefits of the digital age and avoid the destructive effects. He believes solutions such as Serene Study is the right way to go.

Statistics show that majority of Kenyans are using the Internet to watch videos, spending more than six hours daily consuming online content.

Research firm GFK says in its ViewScape Africa study that 97 per cent of Kenyan adults with Internet access are using some form of online service, with nearly two-thirds paying to view digital online content.

The study, which surveyed 1,250 people representative of Kenyan adults with Internet access, shows that one in four downloaded pirated content from the Internet and 94 per cent watch some digital video on YouTube. In the subscription video on demand (SVoD), users aged between 16 and 24 spend a whopping seven hours and 41 minutes a day viewing video.

Therefore, the biggest concern among parents is the kind of content their children are exposed to.

Mr Muiru says he has taken into account such concerns and has accordingly set up a watertight system to ward off predators who are out to prey on young minds.

“With the high penetration of smartphones in Kenyan homes, many parents are finding themselves having difficulty dealing an extra problem of keeping track or controlling the apps their children use when they use their phones,” says Mr Muiru.

He says SereneStudy shields children from online predators while giving parents peace of mind.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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