Joseph Jawah kebbie is not your average teenager. At 19 years, the young developer is already making a difference in the world through the development of a WASSCE Syllabus app and advocating for STEM education for girls in Sierra Leone. Together with some colleagues, Joseph launched a project called ‘Catch them young’ which won a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy to promote girls’ education in Sierra Leone. Catch Them Young aims to encourage more girls to pursue Science and Technology related subjects and careers.
We spoke with Joseph to learn about his inspiration and his mobile application.
SHGH: Tell us about yourself Joseph
JJK: I am a graduate of Christ the King College in Bo in Sierra Leone and an Alumni of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program in the USA .I’m a person who’s passionate about making a difference and helping others. When I’m involved with something, be it a project or normal life event, I want to do my best to achieve success; even though sometimes I fail, but I’ve always felt that failure is also an attribute to achieving success. I enjoy helping people; because to me, there’s nothing more fulfilling than helping others find solutions that meet their needs”
SHGH: What inspired you to develop an app for WASSCE Candidates?
JJK: I was initially inspired by conversations with my friends. Upon my return from USA, I was surprised to learn that most of my friends back home in Sierra Leone had not been able to pass their WASSCE exams. Through research, I discovered that the high rate of WASSCE failures could be attributed to students’ inability to finish the syllabus before the allotted time. About 3 to 4 years ago, my country’s government added one more year to our education system. Why, because students could not finish the syllabus and needed more time. Even with this additional school year, the rate of WASSCE failures is still incredibly high and so is the frustration of many students and parents.”
I decided to make use of the programming skills I had acquired during my year abroad in the USA. I wrote the code for the app in three weeks
SHGH: Wow, an app in three weeks, that’s quite an achievement. Tell us the unique features of this app and how students can benefit from it
The app is called WASSCE Syllabus and the aim is to help West Africans — students in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Liberia to study for the WASSCE exam and easily go through the entire syllabus for whichever course they are studying.
The app has a number of user-driven features that address the issue of high student- failure in the WASSCE Exam. Some of the features included in the app are:
- It comes packed with the entire syllabus of 42 WASSCE subjects
- It will work on 97.3% of Android phones/tablets (no matter the version and screen sizes).
- It does not require connection to a cellular network for access to the subjects.
- It has a feature that enables you to view the syllabus like it is PDF, and a zoom functionality included (use your fingers to pinch/clamp or use zoom controls) to view all the pages properly. You can also rotate your phone/tablet to landscape mode and the viewing and page alignment will change if you have larger screen.
- I included a feature that would allow you to share the app with friends via Bluetooth, social media and other apps installed on your device.
- In addition, the user will be notified if there are any changes in the syllabus and will be asked to update the app. This is just the 1st version but I will continue to develop the app as needs arise
SHGH: How did you get funding and support to fully develop and market this app?
JJK: I never really had any funding; I just did it myself. WAEC provides a booklet for students, but previously students in Sierra Leone had to pay over 100,000 Leones to buy the booklet. Now with this app they don’t need to pay anything. It’s totally free. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has demonstrated their intent to support further development of the app and add more study features to help more students pass the college entrance exam.
It’s currently for Android.
SHGH: How can students download the app?