Learning for Girls & Women


Yiya AirScience

Increasing access to education for rural African girls by providing interactive STEM learning experiences via basic keypad phones and radios

Team Lead

Erin Fitzgerald

Solution Pitch

The Problem

There are approximately 12 million school-aged children in Uganda, with only 4 million enrolled in school. Education is not accessible to the remaining 8 million due to both financial constraints and physical distance to a school. For Ugandan girls, the hurdles are even higher. Only 30 percent of Ugandan girls are enrolled in high school, while 40 percent are married before the age of 18. 

The Solution

Yiya AirScience is a remote learning solution that enables rural Ugandan girls to access interactive STEM education using only basic keypad phones and radios, without needing internet or smartphones. Yiya AirScience uses a “flipped classroom” model where learners first interact with content individually, then engage in a lesson covering that content. 

Yiya shares educational content and instruction with students via robocalls and SMS. Live lessons are held daily through a radio broadcast, to which students can submit answers and receive feedback in real-time via USSD codes and SMS. The combination of text and audio is intentionally inclusive of low literacy learners, as 30% of Ugandan women over 15 are illiterate. 


Yiya AirScience’s pilot program has reached over 23,000 users since August 2020.

Market Opportunity

Yiya’s target population is youth aged 10-19 without the means to go to school, including 8 million adolescents in Uganda alone. In 2019 UNICEF contributed $12.6 million to Ugandan education, and in 2020 the World Bank committed $150 million to increasing access to high quality, safe secondary education supportive of girls. Yiya’s model is a strong fit for all East African countries, who have similar challenges: high numbers of out-of-school youth, hard to access rural low-income populations, and low penetration of internet and smart devices. 

COVID-19 is anticipated to cause an increase in out-of-school youth, especially among girls, due to expected rises in teenage pregnancy and because low-income families facing increased economic pressure may sell girls as child brides for financial compensation of dowries.

Organization Highlights

  • Implementing partner of the Ugandan Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MoST)

  • Cofounders Erin Fitzgerald and Samson Wambuzi selected for the inaugural cohort of ForImpact fellows

  • The African Development Bank Group chose Yiya AirScience as one of the top 7 innovations across the continent responding to COVID-19. Cofounder Samson Wambuzi was a featured speaker at the Bank’s 2020 Civil Society Forum.

  • Yiya was selected for Issroff Family Foundation’s inaugural cohort of the Collaborative Learning Initiative (CLI)

  • Cofounder Samson Wambuzi selected as a 2019 Obama Africa Leader

Partnership Goals

Yiya AirScience currently seeks:

  • Business model expertise to assess market positioning and partnership strategy to help it scale its hugely-successful model to millions of users;

  • Expert recommendations for practical tools and systems, particularly around affordable and functional accounting systems; 

  • Strategic marketing support to increase media exposure and build brand recognition; and

  • Technical expertise and advice, particularly for user retention and acquisition and technical workflow management.

Solver Team

Organization Type:

Kampala, Uganda


Working in:



Solution Team:

  • Erin Fitzgerald Cofounder & Country Director, Yiya Engineering Solutions

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