Two teams are sharing a $10m (£7.8m) prize for advancing education among some of the world’s poorest children.
Onebillion.org, which is based in the UK and Kenya, and KitKit School, from South Korea and the US, developed software to aid learning in Tanzania.
The winners were announced by entrepreneur Elon Musk, who donated to the prize.
The XPrize for Global Learning was set up to empower children to take control of their learning.
Nearly 200 teams from 40 countries entered and five finalists were each given $1m to field test their solutions, among 3,000 children in 170 villages across Tanzania.
Teams had to design a solution that enabled children to teach themselves basic reading, writing and maths within 15 months.
Kitkit School, with a team from Berkeley, California, and Seoul, developed a game-based program to help children learn independently, while onebillion merged numeracy content with literacy material to provide directed learning and activities alongside monitoring to personalise responses to children’s needs.
Before the test, of the children who participated:
- 74% had never attended school
- 80% had never been read to at home
- 90% could not read a single word of Swahili
After the 15-month program, working on donated Google Pixel C tablets pre-loaded with software, 30% of the children had acquired basic reading skills.
According to global data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco):
- One in every five children does not attend school
- 250 million children cannot read or write
“Education is a fundamental human right and we are so proud of all the teams and their dedication and hard work to ensure every single child has the opportunity to take learning into their own hands,” said Anousheh Ansari, chief executive of XPrize.
“Learning how to read, write and demonstrate basic maths are essential building blocks for those who want to live free from poverty and its limitations and we believe that this competition clearly demonstrated the accelerated learning made possible through the educational applications developed by our teams and ultimately hope that this movement spurs a revolution in education worldwide.”
The XPrize was founded by Peter Diamandis to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges.
The first prize was given for the first private space flight. And, since then, dozens of other prizes have been created to help solve health, environmental and other issues.