How Abdul Bature is using AI-driven edutech, Schoola to improve the performance of Nigerian students

Godfrey Elimian
Schoola’s innovative approach has positioned them as a prominent player within the education technology sector, onboarding 110 schools across six states (Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, and Nassarawa)…
How Abdul Bature is using AI-driven edutech, Schoola to improve the performance of Nigerian students

Abdul Bature, the co-founder and CEO of Schoola, an educational technology (EdTech) startup, is committed to transforming education in Africa through innovation and technology. Driven by his belief that children deserve quality education, Abdul is effecting this change with Schoola and transforming learning one classroom at a time.

“As a native and resident of northern Nigeria, I have witnessed firsthand the academic struggles faced by students in my region and across sub-Saharan Africa”, Abdul Bature, CEO and co-founder of Schoola describes the root of his passion.

Abdul grew up in Northern Nigeria and attended the police training school in Jos, followed by enrollment at the Federal Government College (FGC) in Keffi. Unlike most children his age, he had a passion for reading and would devour any book that came his way.

“It is common knowledge that some of the poorest scores and results are recorded for students in the northern part of Nigeria. Having attended schools across northern Nigeria, I understand the realities that hinder student success”, he adds.  

As a teenager, he had a conversation with his uncle that inspired him to pursue a medical career, driven by his ambition to save lives. However, after gaining admission to Ahmadu Bello University to study medicine, Abdul faced a setback when he failed an important exam. Unable to retake the exam, he was forced to leave the medical program. 

Schoola

This turn of events, although initially devastating, ultimately became a blessing in disguise; he switched his studies to computer science, where he would eventually meet Nasiru Mustapha, one of his co-founders.

“A few years later, after several frustrating experiences with the K-12 education system, I pitched Nasir my idea for Shoola. Having also faced challenges in education, he keyed into the vision. Bringing his strong technical skills and experience building apps, he came on board to develop the first version of Schoola”, he explained.

Together, their shared passion for technology and education sowed the seeds that would eventually grow into Schoola.

Career Path: Microsoft IT Academy and Beyond

After graduating from the university, Abdul’s journey took a significant turn when he worked at the Intercontinental School in Kano. In his role as a Microsoft IT Academy program administrator, he was tasked with the responsibility of integrating technology into the learning experience and developing the school’s website and other digital platforms to enhance education. 

This experience exposed him to systemic challenges in Nigeria’s education sector, especially concerning student performance outcomes. Despite their potential, students were consistently failing to attain the desired academic heights and were unable to attain the expected standards.

“While I worked as a Microsoft IT Academy program administrator at Intercontinental School in Kano, I was in charge of making recommendations and decisions about technological integrations into the school system”, Abdul Bature said.

As he interacted with both students and teachers, he discovered the root causes of underperformance. These include the absence of thorough and personalised feedback for students following assignments and a shortage of essential teaching resources for educators, among other pressing concerns. 

How Abdul Bature is using AI-driven edutech, Schoola to improve the performance of Nigerian students

Abdul explains the challenge succinctly:

“A major flaw I noticed in the education system was the lack of constructive feedback for students. When exams were failed, teachers rarely explained why or helped students learn from their mistakes. It was essentially “pass or fail” with no guidance for improvement. Consequently, most students memorise their books only to pass exams, without really caring to understand what they are being taught.”

The Birth of Schoola

Abdul’s solution, which had been brewing in his mind for a long time, was to change how schools assess students using technology. He believed that students could improve their performances by taking online assignments every week in different subjects. This will come with answers to help them study.

But, he was ahead of his time. Access to the internet and the rate of access to compatible gadgets was significantly low for his target market, back in 2013. So, was significantly low.

He saw another opportunity to try again in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. With students turning to makeshift remote learning via WhatsApp, Google Classroom, and radio, schools faced the challenge of teaching remotely. 

At this point, Abdul, along with his co-founders, Nasiru Mustapha and Abdulalim Ladan, decided to develop a digital learning platform that would make learning fun and efficient.

They incorporated a gaming feature that gave users points for correct answers and deducted for incorrect ones. They also added features like duels and tournaments to engage students in a competitive and enjoyable learning experience.

The first rollout was done to schools in Kano and Kaduna states, His team integrated their technology into the schools’ existing systems. 

Abdul Bature and his co-founders

He narrates his team’s experience:

“In one trial, teachers assigned online tests via Google Classroom, and the students showed little interest, complaining of hunger after 2 hours of not engaging properly with the tests. The next day, we brought in the same kids, and then we gave them the same tests on the Schoola gamified mobile app.

So everybody was able to do their assignment in far less time because they just made selections and saw the answer. They also saw that there was a point for it and that they could go to practise, and apart from practising, I think, at the time we had only the duel feature. They asked, What is this duel? And we told them, and they kept duelling against each other and they were there for two hours and nobody asked for food.”

The positive feedback opened a floodgate as over 20 schools adopted the solution during the COVID-19 lockdown.

As the world moved past lockdown in 2021, schools continued to embrace an innovative approach to learning. In response, Schoola became a comprehensive learning management system (LMS) that continues to evolve today.

“With Schoola, we helped schools configure their classes, practice questions, subjects, subject teachers, class teachers, etc. Our technology automatically creates students’ and parents’ accounts where phone numbers are added. That way, parents can monitor whatever the child is doing, get reports from school, and even practice data”, Abdul said.

So far, so good

So far, Schoola has made significant efforts to achieve its goals.

The platform offers a wide range of benefits, from interactive lesson creation for teachers to personalised learning and assessment resources for students, making learning more engaging and accessible. Students who once struggled with their schoolwork are now thriving, thanks to the platform. 

How Abdul Bature is using AI-driven edutech, Schoola to improve the performance of Nigerian students

Schoola’s innovative approach has positioned them as a prominent player within the education technology sector, onboarding 110 schools across six states (Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, and Nassarawa).

These strides got the founders into the Microsoft Startup for Founders program

In 2021, the startup was selected by the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub’s debut iNOVO Accelerator Programme for early-stage startups addressing COVID-19 challenges in Nigeria, and in 2023, Schoola was selected as the best Startup from Nigeria and one of the top 20 startups to participate in the finals of the Africa IoT & AI Challenge.

“In 2021, we got into the INNOVO UK-Nigeria tech hub. It was the first accelerator program we got into. After that, we got into the V8 growth lab acceleration programme. It came with $100,000 convertible notes, which was the first money we raised”, he concludes.

Personal Connection: The Heart of Abdul’s Mission

What sets Abdul apart is his deeply personal connection to transforming education in Nigeria. Having passed through the system and experienced its shortcomings firsthand, his mission is not just about business but making a meaningful difference in the lives of students and teachers.

“There was a school where a child who was not so good academically came in the top three in his class after the school started using Schoola. Then there was a dyslexic student who disliked writing but significantly improved from the bottom of his class. These feedbacks were surprising and emotional for me, and they showed us that we had delivered on our promise of helping students perform better.”

Abdul also recognises the importance of integrating the science of learning into Schoola’s approach to education technology.

He believes that addressing educational challenges involves understanding how learning works, and thanks to the support of CCHub and the MasterCard Foundation, Schoola has established a dedicated learning science team and offers courses for its developers and product managers. 

How Abdul Bature is using AI-driven edutech, Schoola to improve the performance of Nigerian students

The company has also collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University to design solutions that cater to various types of learners. Abdul emphasises that building educational technology is not enough; you must grasp the principles behind it and why users engage with it. 

Despite the remarkable success achieved so far, Abdul remains resolutely focused on Schoola’s overarching vision: transforming the Nigerian educational system. He acknowledges that there is still a considerable amount of work ahead to achieve this vision. His approach? Collaboration. 

Abdul believes that the most effective way to drive substantial change is for various EdTech companies to specialise in addressing specific educational challenges and work together by sharing their solutions rather than attempting to solve every problem individually.

“I believe that If African EdTech companies solving specific problems come together to integrate our solutions, identify our strengths, and collaborate, we are going to see a significant increase in adoption and the use of technology to improve our education system”, he adds.


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