Teams Recognized for Developing Effective, Scalable, Open-Source Learning Software for Children around the World. Language Magazine readers urged to show their support and join the Global Learning XPRIZE community
Elon Musk (right) and Peter Diamandis (founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation) discuss the Global Learning Prize
Today, XPRIZE, the designer and operator of incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced two grand prize winners in the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE. The tie between Kitkit School from South Korea and the U.S., and onebillion from Kenya and the UK, was revealed at an awards ceremony hosted at the Google Spruce Goose Hangar in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, where supporters and benefactors including Elon Musk, celebrated all five finalist teams for their efforts.
Launched in 2014, the Global Learning XPRIZE challenged innovators around the globe to develop scalable solutions that enable children to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within 15 months. After being selected as finalists, five teams received $1M each and went on to field test their education technology solution in Swahili, reaching nearly 3,000 children across 170 villages in Tanzania.
Key to the deployment of the tools, all five finalists’ software are open source to help ensure anyone, anywhere can iterate, improve upon, and deploy the learning solutions in their own community. All five learning programs are currently available in both Swahili and English on GitHub, where there is also guidance on how to localize them for different cultures.
The competition offered a $10 million grand
prize to the team whose solution enabled the greatest proficiency gains in
reading, writing and
arithmetic in the field test. After reviewing the field
test data, an independent
panel of judges found indiscernible
results between the top two performers, and determined two grand prize winners would split
the prize purse, receiving $5M each:
Kitkit School (Berkeley, U.S. and Seoul, South Korea) developed a learning program with a game-based core and flexible learning architecture aimed at helping children independently learn, irrespective of their knowledge, skill, and environment.onebillion (London, UK and Nairobi, Kenya) merged numeracy content with new literacy material to offer directed learning and creative activities alongside continuous monitoring to respond to different children’s needs. Currently, more than 250 million children around the world cannot read or write, and according to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, about one in every five children are out of school a figure that has barely changed over the past five years. Compounding on the issue, there is a massive shortage of teachers at the primary and secondary levels, with research showing that the world must recruit 68.8 million teachers to provide every child with primary and secondary education by 2030.
Before the Global Learning XPRIZE field test, 74% of the participating children were reported as never attending school, 80% reported as never being read to at home and over 90% of participating children could not read a single world in Swahili. After 15 months of learning on Pixel C tablets donated by Google and preloaded with one of the five finalists learning software, that number was cut in half. Additionally, in math skills, all five software were equally as effective for girls and boys,
“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, CEO of XPRIZE. “Learning how to read, write
and demonstrate basic math 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 grand prize
winners and the following finalist teams were chosen from a field of 198 teams
from 40 countries:
CCI (New York, U.S.) developed structured and sequential instructional programs, in addition to a platform seeking to enable non-coders to develop engaging learning content in any language or subject area.Chimple (Bangalore, India) created a learning platform aimed at enabling children to learn reading, writing and mathematics on a tablet through more than 60 explorative games and 70 different stories. RoboTutor (Pittsburgh, U.S.) leveraged Carnegie Mellon’s
research in reading and math tutors, speech recognition and synthesis, machine learning,
educational data mining, cognitive
psychology, and human-computer interaction.“By making each software open source,
the Global Learning XPRIZE and
the finalist teams are providing an advanced tool that the world can build upon and adapt to needs
of their specific community. We believe this
is a major advancement for the global movement to transform how we can help to bring quality learning to children anywhere,”
said executive director of the Global
Learning XPRIZE Emily Church. “Children everywhere, whether they do not have
access to school, have had intermittent
access to a classroom, or want to
supplement their current education have the
basic human right to
The Global Learning XPRIZE was made possible by the generosity and support of a consortium of benefactors, philanthropists and partners including the United
Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), the World Food Programme
(WFP), and the Government of
Following the grand prize announcement, XPRIZE is working to secure and load the software onto tablets; localize the software into different languages; and deliver preloaded hardware and charging stations to remote locations so all finalist teams can scale their learning software across the world. The public is invited to sign the pledge to show their support and join the Global Learning XPRIZE community to help provide an education for all children, everywhere.
Church was insistent that the work on the next
stages of delivery, localization, and implementation must begin straight away, and
who better than Language Magazine
readers to start the ball rolling?
here to join the effort!
For more information on the recently-awarded Adult Literacy XPRIZE, visit https://www.languagemagazine.com/2019/02/13/two-teams-share-7m-adult-literacy-xprize/