Elon Musk-funded XPRIZE expands education software testing

It has teamed up with various organizations to test software kids can use to teach themselves.

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Global Learning XPRIZE
Global Learning XPRIZE

Back in 2014, XPRIZE announced a new "Global Learning" category that challenged teams to develop open source education software kids in developing countries can use to teach themselves reading, writing and math. The organization launched field tests of the five finalists' creations late last year, and now it's expanding the reach and scale of those pilot tests with help from new partners Queen Rania Foundation, Education Cannot Wait, Teach the World Foundation, Imagine Worldwide and Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation.

At this point in time, XPRIZE is only running field tests of the finalists' education software in 150 villages in eastern Tanzania. This partnership called the "Impact Coalition" will give it a way to reach kids in other countries like Jordan and Pakistan, including those living in remote areas and refugee camps. The Global Learning XPRIZE has a $15 million prize purse courtesy of SpaceX/Tesla/Boring Company chief Elon Musk. It already awarded the five finalists with $1 million each and will award "the team whose solution enables
the greatest proficiency gains in reading, writing and arithmetic" with $10 million in April 2019.

Here are the test pilots the Impact Coalition team will conduct:

  • Queen Rania Foundation - The goal of this pilot is to explore potential use cases of mobile learning to support basic literacy and numeracy in Jordanian and Syrian Refugee contexts. The Queen Rania Foundation will investigate areas where education technology can have the most impact on children's lives, whether in school, at home or at learning centers.
  • Education Cannot Wait (ECW) - As the first and only global fund solely focusing on education in emergencies, Education Cannot Wait has invested in 15 countries in crises. ECW recognizes the value of innovation in giving children and youth the opportunity to learn even in most dire circumstances. It is exploring partnerships to further these pilots as part of its support to countries such as Syria, Bangladesh and Uganda.
  • Imagine Worldwide - Working in two primary schools, this long-term pilot will leverage the software to provide hundreds of children in Malawi with the opportunity to learn to read and do math in their local language, Chichewa, for two or more school years in order to understand more about the impact of the technology. Imagine Worldwide is also planning a series of shorter-term pilots in Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi to understand implementation in different contexts.
  • Teach the World Foundation - The Teach the World Foundation has already piloted a similar field test in Pakistan and Bangladesh over the last two years and will launch additional large-scale pilots in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in 2018, with the aim to reach over 10,000 children.
  • Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation (GAHI) - With XPRIZE and Queen Rania Foundation, GAHI and its partner Education Cannot Wait will develop a framework for assessing innovations in emergency education.
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