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Creating Plastic Free Intelligent Generation

Arresting all plastic bottle caps at primary schools to help pupils understand Mathematics and the impact of plastic caps on our environment

Photo of Sadam Matsawili
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During my research phase, I saw many plastic bottle tops spread along the beaches of Lake Victoria and in streets. This infers to other parts of the World. 

Weighing the impacts of plastic bottle caps on our environment, I prefer saying that they must be arrested other than just being collected for greater control.  

In Tanzania, mathematics has remained the toughest subject in schools despite many pupils wishing could manage it. Parents and relatives and the governments have always encouraged children to pursue mathematics and science subjects without success. I believe that math's is the simplest subject.  

According to the President's Office - Regional Administration and Local Government Ministry a total of 1,842,513 pupils were enrolled in grade 1 in our 16,088 public schools. These students counts up to 99, and do basic mathematics - (addition, subtraction) up to 99, according to the syllabus. Also,  1,345,636 pupils were enrolled in pre-primary classes which are also attached to public primary schools. These pupils need to be assisted with counting aids. 

It is believed that, for a pupil to manage mathematics at middle and higher levels should have a strong foundation of mathematics at the primary level where counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers are principally taught and easily understood by using counting aids.  

My idea is to ask every grade 1 pupil to bring 100 plastic bottle caps at the 'School Plastic Arrest Box' from which I will take them to make a counting aids for pupils. Parents, care givers and the general communities will also be encouraged to collect these plastic bottle caps on behalf of pupils. 

Imagine that, engaging only 2,000 public primary schools (12.4 per cent) with average of 50 pupils in grade 1, I will be able to arrest 10 million plastic bottle caps (i.e. 2000 schools x 50 grade 1 pupils x  100 plastic bottle caps). And this is very possible within a year. 

While collecting plastic bottle caps at schools, teachers will be asked to tell pupils by showing them examples of the deadly effects of them on our environment so that pupils do not them spread and grow knowing that for creating the plastic free generation. All counting aids will be left at schools and named with specific pupil for tracking in case returned to the environment. 

I will place a special Plastic Arrest Box at every public primary school at which all pupils will collect their plastic bottle caps, and our team will get them from it to create counting Aids and give to pupils. Teachers will be collecting caps from destroyed Aids by pupils and place them back to the box.  

I have the advantage that, I have been involved in the Survey titled "Experiments to Improve Learning Outcomes in Tanzania" which covered 350 public primary schools for over 2 years.  I was a research supervisor and then a coordinator of the study implemented by EDI Ltd on behalf of Twaweza.   

Idea Title

Plastic Bottle Caps For Mastering Mathematics and Protecting Our Environment

Company / Organization Name

Afrosoft Limited is a private company based in Bukoba, Tanzania focusing on ICT, Research, Consultancy, Agribusiness, and Entrepreneurship.


Where are you / your team located?

We are located in Bukoba Municipal Council in Kagera region, Tanzania.

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

We already have millions of plastic bottle caps in the World, Tanzania in particular. Designing other bottle caps rather than plastics is not enough to address the problem. This idea provides an interim (temporary) solution by collecting all available plastic bottle caps on our environment and arrest them at collection points (primary schools). Then use them to make counting aids for grade 1 and 2 pupils. Later the caps can be collected from all schools and be recycled/destroyed together.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Use Case: Caps. The North Sea Foundation cited that "Every year, about 8-12 million tons of plastic enters our oceans (Jambeck et al., 2015; Eunomia, 2016), including many plastic bottle caps".

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

This idea will operate at any place where there is a primary school, pupils and plastic bottles caps on environments, starting from Bukoba Urban District in Tanzania. The lessons will be expanded to cover Tanzania, Africa, and the entire World.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

I will visit schools (one after another), talking to Head Teachers and grade 1 and 2 Mathematics teachers about the use of caps and impacts of plastic bottle caps on our environments. I will ask mathematics teachers to tell their pupils collect and bring 200 plastic bottle caps at schools from environment Subject teachers will get Tsh. 50 for every well kept Teaching Aid and Tsh. 100 monthly for random sampled pupils knowing the use of caps and the impacts of plastics on our environment.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Becoming a Top Idea hence working with the Think Beyond Plastic Accelerator Program will help me reach more schools and hire a semi-skilled team to sort and wash collected plastic bottle caps and make them into 100 Mathematical Counting Aids to be provided for every grade 1 pupil. Also, I will be able to give some incentives to teachers who have managed to store well the counting aids and upon randomly testing pupils' understanding regarding the impacts of plastics on our environment

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

My idea emerged from a discussion with my friend Michael Kamukulu, who has focused on replacing Plastic Bottle Caps with Wooden Bottle Caps. I admired his idea, but thought further on what should be done for the already available plastic bottle caps spread everywhere in streets. I also then remembered that my friend, Hawa Makuberi was once thinking to create teaching aids for her grade 1 and 2 pupils for teaching them counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division mathematics.

Tell us about your work experience

I am a researcher and entrepreneur. I've been working with a research firm - EDI Ltd for over 5 years; as an Interviewer, Data processing officer, Project coordinator, and Assistant Operations Manager

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Afrosoft Limited is a private company registered in Tanzania with number 121712, based in Bukoba. I founded it with my young brother, Mahad Matsawili.

1 comment

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Photo of Sadam Matsawili

Let's involve kids in protecting our environment, because the future is theirs. We should collect all plastic bottle caps, use them to teach our kids Mathematics and let the kids understand the impacts of plastic bottle caps on our environment and their future. This will result into a Plastic Free Generation.