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Varkey Foundation launches Edtech competition

Next Billion prize aims to use ICT to bring education to one billion under-served children

Varkey: Technology has the potential to help bring education to young people in developing nations.
Varkey: Technology has the potential to help bring education to young people in developing nations.

A new competition for education technology startups has been launched by education charity the Varkey Foundation.

The ‘Next Billion' Edtech Prize is intended to recognise innovative technology aimed at improving education in low income and emerging world countries. The prize is intended to encourage new ways of bringing education to the estimated 264 million children who have no access to schooling and the 600 million receiving inadequate schooling.

Forty startups will pitch at the Global Education and Skills Forum, which is taking place in Dubai today and tomorrow, with three winning entries each being awarded $25,000. The winning startups will also be able to pilot their ideas at schools in Western Cape, South Africa.

Competing edtech startups will pitch to an expert panel of judges, made up of venture capitalists, philanthropic investors, experts in edtech and learning sciences, and senior education policy makers as well as a live audience of GESF delegates.

Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Next Billion Prize said: "Over a billion young people - a number growing every day - are being denied what should be the birthright of every single child in the 21st century, no matter where they live: a good education that allows them to make the most of their God-given talents.

"We have launched the ‘Next Billion Prize' to highlight technology's potential to tackle the problems that have proven too difficult for successive generations of politicians to solve. Our fervent hope is that the prize inspires practical and persistent entrepreneurs the world over to come forward with fresh tech ideas. These ideas must be hardy enough to improve education in regions where young people are denied access to a good quality teacher and a great learning environment."