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In an era dominated by digital advancements, parents can play an active role in shaping their children’s digital future. From teaching digital literacy to fostering responsible online behavior, parents have several crucial roles in this journey.

Huwaa, a gamified platform integrating both online and offline activities, is one such local edtech startup that puts parents at the center. Huwaa, which started operating a year ago, aims to help kids learn new skills that will supplement their education while also equipping them with 21st-century skills.

“We designed the platform to look like the universe, with each category named after a planet,” says Liya Daniel, co-founder and CEO of Huwaa. “Our main target is to teach primary school kids aged 5 to 13 the essential 21st-century skills: critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and emotional intelligence.”

Akofada (DFS Ethiopia)

Liya alongside her co-founder, Ruth Kebede, saw a gap in the educational sector, particularly with the high number of secondary school students not making it to universities. “We thought we should start the work at the grassroots level,” Liya says.

The founders of Huwaa aimed to create a learning experience where children are so engrossed in games that they are unaware they are acquiring new skills.

Huwaa offers educational games categorized under Mathematics, Planet Kingdom, Languages, Astronomy, and Arts. These games first introduce information that is later tested, reinforcing the learning process.

“We have tried to visit as many schools as possible, both public and private, to understand the gaps in how teachers and students communicate and the kids’ capacity to receive education,” Liya explains.

The Huwaa platform has two login portals: one for kids and one for parents. The parental portal helps parents manage their kids’ current activities and performance. It also enables parents to connect with other parents, access forums, and read blogs related to parenting.

Liya says that parents have welcomed the platform enthusiastically. “We have assessed and conducted studies on how parents want their children to spend their spare time. The study has shown that parents want their children to be knowledgeable and actively participate in technology, and they are willing to pay for the necessary instruments. However, some parents are not well aware of technology and devices.”

To address this, the Huwaa platform provides a parental portal where parents can log in and monitor their kids’ activity, performance, and rankings on the dashboard.

The platform also offers offline educational games for kids that help them develop an open mindset, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities. Kids can also use emojis to express their daily feelings.

Liya states that some parents have questions about providing their kids with an education outside of the school curriculum. In addition, despite the platform giving parents their own dashboard, some parents still have no idea what their kids are doing on the platform.

The role of parents in the digital learning era was the central theme of the March episode of EdTech Mondays, a monthly radio show that sparks critical conversations about using technology in education. Produced by the Mastercard Foundation and Shega Media & Technology, the show brought together a parent, an EdTech entrepreneur, and a school administrator for a lively discussion.

According to the guests, EdTech empowers parents to participate in their children’s education actively. There are many international and local platforms students can use to advance their educational careers. These platforms open numerous doors for students and parents need to be aware of these platforms and encourage their use.

“Parents should actively enroll their children in digital skills training programs, equipping them with the tools to shape the future,” said Netsanet Melese, CEO of I Explore Educational Solution.

“While children are at the center, parents play an important supportive role in EdTech. It’s with the permission of parents that children get devices,” said Emnet Negusse, CEO of St. Mark School and a guest on the show.

“Technology use has definitely shifted for parents nowadays,” said Emnet. “The more familiar parents are with technology, the better they can guide their children’s digital habits. In contrast, parents unfamiliar with technology might misinterpret their kids’ screen time, assuming it’s wasted time.”

“We traditionally associate screen time with negative effects,” shared Emnet her observation both as a parent and school administrator.   Hiwot Solomon, In-Country Assistant of Ordinary Hero, agrees with Emnet’s take.

“Many families are afraid of devices. They fear these things have bad influences. Families need to adopt, critically assess, and allow their kids guided usage,” said Hiwot.

While EdTech offers significant advantages, challenges like technical issues, screen time management, and equitable access persist.

According to the guests, parents cannot always keep devices away from their children or always monitor what they do. “What parents can do is teach their children the proper use of devices and help them understand what is beneficial for them,” said Emnet. 

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Daniel, a writer and radio host, has a keen interest in technology. Additionally, he has supported various organizations by enhancing their digital presence in his role as a social media manager.