Ali Khatau is a 23-year old medical student who has founded an online educational platform for Tanzanian secondary school students. Here he describes his motivations and the difference he makes.
In his final year at Hubert Kairuki Memorial University in Dar-es-Salaam, and a member of KSIJ Dar-es-Salaam, Ali is also CEO of ElimuTanzania.
Through ElimuTanzania, he aims to help increase Tanzanian students’ pass rates, as well as improving their IT literacy. “I wanted learners to access technology in preparation for their exams so that they could build confidence and excel,” Ali says. He provides essential online educational features and resources free of charge for anyone who wants to use it – teachers and students.
“I started building the platform in mid-2015,” Ali explains. “It was extremely difficult as I faced a lot of resistance and lacked financial resources. I ignored all the negativity and kept focusing on my project.” The platform currently has over 50,000 users and more than 200,000 page views since its inception in 2016.
There is no sign-up or login process, and resources can be accessed from anywhere in the world, from any device, demonstrating Ali’s desire to make his platform accessible and easy to use for everybody.
There is an impressive range of resources available, such as over 140 past papers and more than 450 revision questions. Ali believes that under the current Tanzanian education system, “students don’t get enough revision questions to solve in order to assess their competence and know their strengths and weaknesses.” He hopes that his online tests will help them to measure their performance. There are also online tests, notes and syllabi available for many different subjects and levels.
“Most students use the traditional method where they study with books and pens,” Ali says, “on graduating they’re not familiar with how computers work.” He believes that using ElimuTanzania’s online resources will help combat students’ low computer literacy level, leading to increased employment opportunities.
Ali believes that education is vital to helping the progress of developing countries. Providing a quality education to young people across the world is an essential step forward in eradicating ills such as hunger, poverty, and gender inequality.
ElimuTanzania has donated hundreds of books worth thousands of dollars to local NGOs. These have gone on to help thousands of people read and learn.
Educating patients about health
Ali regularly volunteers for health screening initiatives in the community, putting his medical training to practical charitable use.
Furthermore, he sells medical equipment to students and lecturers through the enterprise DarEquip, and founded a health education platform to provide education on an array of common health problems such as diabetes.
Ali’s great work has been recognised with national coverage in high-profile newspapers such as The Citizen and Nipashe. He also volunteers as a health writer, contributing stories about medical and health issues to help educate people about different illnesses. These cover a wide range of subjects, demonstrating his commitment to helping improve the lives of others.
For example, he has written advice on how to keep the heart healthy to prevent attacks and avoid heart disease, and on preventative measures to reduce the risk of migraines. He has spoken about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania, and the need for education about transmission and prevention.
Award winner and example to all
Ali has won the Tujenge Tanzania Innovation Challenge, which was funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and Unleashed Africa. The British Royal Commonwealth Society also recognised his work with ElimuTanzania, giving him the title of Associate Fellow.
Ali is eager to inspire other young people to become entrepreneurs and make a difference. “Follow your passion”, he advises. “Do what you enjoy doing and what you’re interested in. That way, you will be much more dedicated than if you worked at something just for the money. Set big but realistic goals!”. He adds that he’d like to see a “mindset change among young African university and college graduates where you think about entrepreneurship and starting your own enterprise rather than about being employed by others”.
Over the next few years, Ali plans to continue to work on many projects simultaneously. “I hope to keep working on ElimuTanzania and reach more than 500,000 student users within the next 4-5 years.” he says. “I also plan to expand DarEquip to supply medical equipment to more medical schools including those in other regions in Tanzania. Currently, I am working on a start-up in the food and processing industry and plan to grow it into one of the biggest food industries in the country over a period of the next 10-20 years.”
Ali is a remarkable young man, and a great example of ambition, success and philanthropy. He is an example to all in the Khoja community.