How to win $15 million dollars for developing a literacy and numeracy training solution: Global Learning XPRIZE

If you could develop a scalable, tablet based, individualised learning solution for teaching basic literacy and numeracy to kids in developing countries, you could win $15 million dollars. It’s a competition and it’s happening right now.

You can read about it here on the xPrize website, and I’ve pasted in the details below as well. Got any ideas? Here you go:

The challenge

Develop new learning solutions to empower children and communities around the world

The $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition that challenges teams from around the world to develop open source scalable software solution that will enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic.

The $15 million dollar prize will be awarded as follows

Five finalist:  $1 million each will be awarded by the Judging Panel to teams with the best proposed solutions.

Grand prize winner:   $10 million will be awarded to the top performing team solution based on the field testing of the teams.

Need for the Competition

Grand Challenge

An estimated 250 million children around the world cannot read, write, or demonstrate basic arithmetic skills. Many of these children are in developing countries without regular access to quality schools or teachers.

In fact, UNESCO estimates that the world will need 1.6 million more teachers globally by 2015.  And that number is set to double by 2030.

The Market Failure

While programs exist to build schools and train teachers, traditional models of education are not able to scale fast enough to meet demand. We simply cannot build enough schools or train enough teachers to meet the need.

We are at a pivotal moment where an alternative, radical approach is necessary.  We need an approach that will eliminate the existing barriers to a quality learning experience, where the seeds of innovation can be imparted to every child, regardless of location or economic status.


The learning solutions developed by this prize will enable a child to learn autonomously. And, those created by the finalists will be open-sourced for all to access, iterate and share. This technology could be deployed around the world, bringing learning experiences to children otherwise thought unreachable, who do not have access to quality education, and supplementing the learning experiences of children who do.


The impact will be exponential. Children with basic literacy skills have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty. And that’s not all.  By enabling a child to learn how to learn, that child has opportunity – to live a healthy and productive life, to provide for their family and their community, as well as to contribute toward a peaceful, prosperous and abundant world.

XPRIZE believes that innovation can come from anywhere and that many of the greatest minds remain untapped.

What might the future look like with hundreds of millions of additional young minds unleashed to tackle the world’s Grand Challenges?

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

10 thoughts

  1. Those are some interesting stats above. 1.6 million more teachers needed!

    It would be great to have the time to design something. But I am thinking that all these other companies already have the content and the software and as such a huge head start.

    What would be interesting is to think about a self-generating system. A bit like how Minecraft took out RPGs on the internet. The ability for the user to use the software to make their own stuff turned out better than nicely polished ‘worlds’.

    Be worth thinking about – turn the whole thing on its head.

    1. Yes… I like how you’re thinking… Another thing is that we’re probably not far off Education + Cloud-sourced AI. Not AI in the sense of an evil super intelligence, but kind of artificial smartness that would allow developers to tap into the next iteration of IBM’s Watson or the AI that Google are training (that everyone thinks is a search engine).

  2. Ah, a system where users can make content for other users and then rank it so the quality rises to the top. Perhaps the building blocks are sounds and letters, and from there you just put them together (wordcraft) to make what you want. The answer is in there somewhere…

  3. Interesante propuesta, sobre todo que nos va dar un panorama más amplio para ver las diferentes formas de alfabetización

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