How Global EdTech Is Shaping Developing Countries
As our world advances, it bridges the gaps between nations—one country’s problem is never isolated in this age of technology. Therefore, education is imperative to keep up with the economic, political, environmental and societal issues that surround us. Internet and mobile devices are more accessible than ever, creating a growing market for global edtech companies to reach out to developing countries where resources are needed most.
We’ve rounded up a list of companies and foundations that are spearheading academic advancements in areas of the world that are often overlooked. From computers in Ghana the size of credit-cards to tablet-integrated reading in Cambodia, here are seven global edtech initiatives you should know about.
Seven Global EdTech Intiatives Reaching Developing Countries
UNICEF Innovation Fund
The United Nations is funding $9 million to edtech startups improving education in developing countries to help them launch their open-source products. The program will sponsor 50 to 60 companies who will receive up to $50,000 each.
Another UN initiative, U-Report is a mobile polling system implemented in 22 countries to survey and collect data on education, health, and child rights issues. In a matter of hours, U-Report can spot a trend, notify authorities, and solve a problem before it causes further repercussions. The system is used by over two million people who have responded to questions about bullying, Zika virus, climate change, and online child protection.
This online community was started by 20-year-old Cynthia Wasonga in Nairobi to link learners to tutors. You don’t have to be a student to access the free help. Users type in the topic they’re interested in to instantly talk to an expert. Currently, the site caters to university students, but the startup has goals to develop programs for children.
Total Reading Approach for Children
In Cambodia, World Education, Inc. developed a program to raise literacy rates in primary schools. They integrate tablets for reading, use a rapid response system to address student reading difficulties, and encourage peer and parent teaching.
Currently accommodating 16 languages in their free tools and lessons, Khan Academy continues to accept language experts to translate their content into as many languages as possible. In April, they tested new Mongolian and Korean sites.
Little Thinking Minds
In Jordan, two mothers developed a literacy program of interactive DVDs, CDs, digital books, and mobile applications to teach children Arabic. Their strategy was designed to disrupt the textbook method of teaching full words and first teaching phonetics and vowel variations.
This program installs Basic eLearning Libraries (BeLLs) to rural Ghanaian schools that lack methods for children to learn reading at their own pace. The BeLLs are installed on credit-card sized computers called Raspberry Pi that require only 12 volts of power and can be used without Internet access.
As this niche in edtech continues to grow, perhaps larger companies will begin to think about how they can bring their resources to more students and learners across the globe. Not only can great leaps in global edtech teach skills like literacy and coding for K-12, but it can reach adults in need of workforce development and training to stay employable in a world that is always five steps ahead.
Jennifer is a Boston-based freelance journalist who has covered emerging fashion and New York Fashion Week for Papercut magazine. When she isn't talking people's ears off, she studies art history and reconstructs thrift clothes into her own designs.