XPRIZE and UN Announce Global Partnership to Empower Children’s Learning Through Technology
The XPRIZE Foundation with the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a new partnership for the US$15 Million Global Learning XPRIZE – a five-year competition challenging teams to develop open-source software that will enable children with limited access to schooling to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic. XPRIZE, a non-profit organization, is the world’s leader in designing and managing incentive prize competitions for the benefit of humanity.
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The partnership was marked with the announcement of Tanzania as the host country for the competition. Google has donated 8,000 Pixel C tablets for the competition’s testing phase set to begin in September 2017.
Currently, there are 136 teams from 33 countries developing education technology solutions. The top five finalist teams will each receive US$1 million and their software will be field tested in Tanga and Arusha regions. An estimated 4,000 children across 200 villages will participate in the 18-month field test, each of whom will receive a donated tablet. The team whose solution enables the greatest proficiency gains in reading, writing and arithmetic will receive the grand prize of US$10 million. At the end of the competition, all five solutions will be released as open source, free for anyone to use and adapt.
UNESCO will lead the educational aspects of the field test in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT) and the Prime Minister’s Office Regional Authority and Local Government (PMO RALG).
“We are thrilled to embark on the testing phase of the Global Learning XPRIZE with UNESCO and WFP,” said Matt Keller, senior director of the Global Learning XPRIZE. “The testing phase is highly critical to the success of the prize. We hope the competition will yield transformative learning results within these villages and pave the way for every child on Earth to access a world-class education in the palm of her hand.”
UNESCO sees this as an opportunity to strengthen the capacities of the education national authorities to address the needs of 3.5 million of out of school children in the country and contribute to worldwide solution for the 60 million out of school children.
WFP will manage logistics and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) aspects of the field test, including installing solar power charging stations for the tablets. The solar panels will not only be used to charge the tablets, but will be available for community use.
“WFP is incredibly excited to help ‘bring to life’ literacy for people who might not have access to formal education,” said WFP Tanzania Country Representative Richard Ragan. “As one of XPRIZE's partners in Tanzania, we hope to create something that transforms the way the world understands education.”
The Global Learning XPRIZE was first announced during the UN General Assembly week in 2014: as the Closing Keynote session of the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting with XPRIZE founder and executive chairman Peter Diamandis and President Clinton, and at a special ceremony with Keller and the UN’s Special Envoy for Global Education, former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
The competition is funded by a group of donors including the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Anthony Robbins Foundation, the Econet Foundation, the Merkin Family Foundation, Scott Hassan, John Raymonds and Suzanne West.
The XPRIZE initiative in Tanzania will be launched by the Hon. Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Joyce Ndalichako, and witnessed by senior level education officials as well as XPRIZE, UNESCO and WFP representatives.
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