Feel Good Young app developer gives up income to help 2020 matrics

Young app developer gives up income to help 2020 matrics

A committed young category winner from the 2019 MTN Business App of the Year Awards has decided to forfeit his income so this year’s matrics can use his app to stay on top of their studies.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the odds are stacked against South Africa’s matrics this year.

But Lesego Finger, 21, whose app Matric Live took top spot in the Best Education Solution category of MTN’s app awards in 2019, has made his app accessible to hundreds of pupils. 

Despite the challenges, many matrics found ways to stay on track with two useful tools – a smartphone and Finger’s home-grown app which brought learning to about 520,000 high school pupils.

The Matric Live app went a step further to help grade 10 to 12s during lockdown by forgoing its nominal fee and adding another 20,000 registrations to its database.

The true reward, says self-taught coder and entrepreneur Finger, is the messages he has received from grateful pupils. 

“Thanks a lot for this app. I come from a poor village with a lack of resources, where we have to share textbooks. We don’t have computers. Also we have a lack of information… sometimes it is hard to study because we don’t have books and study guides,” one pupil wrote.

“Since I downloaded and used this app, my problems have decreased. I am even one of the top pupils at school thanks to this app. You saved my future.”

Finger began writing gaming apps while still in high school. He then shifted to education, starting by loading subjects he was good at, and the app grew from there.

“Now there are 15 subjects available. For a subscription fee of R10 a month, or a lump-sum payment of R100 a year, all the content of the app is available,” Finger says.

“When SA went into lockdown we stopped charging this fee,” says Lesego, whose sole income has disappeared with his decision to enable free access.

Though he has been approached by the corporate world to buy Matric Live, with offers of a permanent job and a large share in the profits, Finger has decided to continue working alongside his team of five.

His work in the field of educational apps looks set to continue. The department of education used his services to set up an app enabling pupils to source previous exam papers to help prepare for matric, and he has additional plans of his own.

“I want to expand the offering so it covers grade R to 12, and examine the opportunity for university courses.

“I also believe there a way to develop an app that will allow people to write exams at home. Devices now come with cameras with microphones. There are also tools that can flag eye movements, keystrokes, and also record screens, so that the integrity of an online exam can be guaranteed,” he says.

Work on the latest version of Matric Live continued while Finger submitted his app, with new functionalities, as a contender in the 2020 MTN Business App of the Year Awards.  

This year marks the ninth edition of the awards, with the ceremony to take place on October 29, when all the finalists and winners will be revealed.

Kholo Magagane, head of marketing at MTN SA Business, says apps like Matric Live are filling the gaps in delivering education in SA not just during the pandemic, but by reaching more youth in rural or disadvantaged communities.

The Business App of the Year Awards are aimed not just at encouraging the efforts of local developers, but building an industry that will contribute to transforming key sectors in SA while rebuilding the economy.

The awards ceremony will be live-streamed – for more information visit appoftheyear.co.za.  Updates on the competition will be posted on @MTNBusinessZA on Twitter.