Google is opening its wallet for the purpose of narrowing educational gaps in the developing countries. The Internet giant is planning to grant $15 million to Android developers who can devise successful applications for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic to children in developing countries.
The company yesterday announced a new competition in the framework of XPRIZE, a non-profit organization sponsored by Larry Page, Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington, James Cameron, and others. The new competition is directed towards developers all over the world. The XPRIZE competition is currently known mainly for its $20 million spaceship to the moon competition, in which Israeli company SpaceIL is taking part.
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According to UNESCO figures quoted on the XPRIZE website, 250 million children around the world know how to neither read nor write, and there is a need for 1.6 million more classroom teachers. UNESCO asserts that the acquisition of basic reading skills can bring 171 million people worldwide out of poverty. Registration for the competition is scheduled to end in March 2015.
Under the competition rules, the registered groups will have 18 months to develop their solution. The semifinal will then take place, and five finalists will be selected a month later. Each of these five groups will receive $1 million to carry out a pilot project in a rural area in a developing country in which the first language is English.
3, 000 children in the 5-12 age bracket will participate in each pilot. The group whose application achieves the highest rate of expertise in teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic will win a $10 million prize, and its application will be made available for free downloading everywhere in the world. The winner will be announced in February 2019.
The Terra Venture Partners venture capital fund and serial entrepreneur Yanki Margalit will advise the Israel entrepreneurs taking part in the competition. Futurist and Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security researcher Dr. Roey Tzezana will represent XPRIZE in Israel. Terra Venture personnel, including Barak Goldstein, Dr. Astorre Modena, Dr. Harold Wiener, and Oren Kochavi, together with Margalit, will provide the Israeli entrepreneurs with helpful advice on developing their ideas and technology, and will introduce them to key Israeli high tech and educational figures.
Terra Venture partners Barak Goldstein says the competition will be one of the most exciting and prestigious in the world, and the Israeli startup industry has already proven it belongs among the top. “We believe that entrepreneurs should be encouraged to use the extraordinary capabilities of the local industry in ventures having the potential to change the world, ” he says.
Tzezana adds, “In an optimal situation, we want to see young , interesting, and vigorous applications, like the programs that are so attractive to the enormous gaming community all over the world. If we manage to direct the diligence of the gamers towards education, I believe we’ll see a general worldwide change in educational methods. Today, each child who goes to school and sits between gray walls in front of a blackboard is in effect traveling into the past. That’s got to change.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com