1.3.1 Using Technology to Reach Scale

The e-Learning revolution promises unprecedented scale and accessibility, but pure e-learning solutions have not yet demonstrated effectiveness.

Technology-based learning tools have the potential to obtain truly breathtaking scale, particularly where user costs can be controlled.  An outstanding current example of this scale is Tunisia’s NAJJA7NI Emploi project, the largest known user base for e-learning and career services.

Mobile penetration in Tunisia has grown from six percent in 2002 to 105 percent in 2012. Proinvest, Edupartage, Silatech and the cell phone service provider, Tunisiana, partnered to leverage the extensive mobile use to create a program to deliver youth the skills needed to enter the labor market. The partnership resulted in the Najjahni Emploi program. Najjahni Emploi provides a variety of knowledge services specifically tailored for young people, including career guidance, money management, job search strategies, local job matching, and tips on how to start a business. All of these are now available to anyone in Tunisia by dialing *136# on a basic, GSM-enabled mobile phone.. These services are provided in the form of quizzes, and text-based alerts using an under-utilized portion of the wireless spectrum that can be accessed using phones that “have no credit.”

Within one month of going live, over 298,000 (mostly young) Tunisians had registered for the service. After three months of activity, over 60 percent of the accounts were still active. 68 percent of users use the service “several times a week,” largely to study the French language and 96 percent of users find the service “friendly and intuitive.” The program is currently available exclusively in French, but will be expanded to include Arabic and English to increase exposure.  With the Najjahni Emploi tool, youth in the most marginalized communities will have access to vital skill development and be connected to employment opportunities.

While this development is both impressive and unprecedented, careful study and evaluation will be required to precisely measure the educational and employment benefits delivered to the registered user base. Ironically (but not atypically), this measurement may prove much more expensive than the deployment of the system itself.  New tools and approaches will need to be developed to lower costs and increase consistency of performance measurement, and appropriate metrics defined.