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Ubongo Kids Cartoons Help African Kids Develop Critical Skills For Success in a Rapidly Changing Future

The Ubongo Kids Project received a US$ 3,000 FIRE Africa Award in 2017 at the Internet Governance Forum. The Ubongo Kids TV and radio show is helping over 6 million kids in East Africa develop the skills they will need for success in our future. In new episodes of Ubongo Kids, produced with support from AFRINIC (the Africa Internet Registry) which broadcasts in Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, English and French, young learners are introduced to future-ready skills from coding to methods of assessing the accuracy of information. They also learn financial literacy skills like budgeting, and are encouraged to have a growth mindset (the belief that they can grow their own intelligence) and to stick-to-it with grit. 

As an introduction to code (and computational thinking) the Ubongo Kids characters learn to communicate with ants by using leaves. They figure out the meanings of different leaves in the ant code, then create (and debug) leaf algorithms to lead the ants away from the village food supply. They even use code to create a dance!

In the Internet episode, they learn about the Internet through the metaphor of a spider’s web… and get some first-hand experience when they accidentally reshare a message through online channels and the forest animals’ own offline communication network.

And as a handy reminder, the music video “Know the Source” reminds kids through a catchy tune that for information, be it digital or not, they should check who it came from and why they shared it. And on top of all of that, the episodes showcase strong girl characters in key roles, using their brains to solve digital dilemmas!

These episodes are part of the broader Ubongo Kids series which helps young learners develop science, technology, engineering and math skills through fun, animated stories and catchy original songs. It broadcasts on national network TV in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, as well as digital TV in 27 countries in Africa.

Ubongo is a Tanzania based social enterprise that creates engaging and locally relevant digital content for learners in Africa. Ubongo’s mission is to transform learning for the 440 million kids in Africa through localized edutainment on accessible technologies, to help kids learn, and leverage their learning to change their lives.

Ubongo leverages the power of entertainment, the reach of mass media, and the connectivity provided by mobile devices to deliver high-quality learning to African families using accessible technology. Their localized edutainment programs Ubongo Kids and Akili and Me are watched in over 6.4 million East African households monthly, with hundreds of thousands of them also connecting digitally for anytime, anywhere fun learning.

Ubongo partners with organizations to co-produce content for skills development and behaviour change for their audience of over 6.4 million families who watch the program each month.

Ubongo is a women-led company, which prioritizes equitable education, development and representation. 80% of senior management are women, as is half of the Ubongo team.

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