VSO partner wins £3.9m prize to develop education software 

21 May 2019 News

VSO's Unlocking Talent project in Malawi

A VSO partner, onebillion, has won $5m (£3.9m) from the XPRIZE Foundation to develop education software to help children teach themselves reading, writing and arithmetic skills. 

The Global Learning XPRIZE competition began in 2014. Onebillion was one of five teams shortlisted in 2017 and projects were tested for over a year through a field trial in Tanzania before two joint winners were named this month. 

Onebillion's project, onecourse, was developed in collaboration with experts to support teachers with large classes. 

Andrew Ashe, chief executive of onebillion, was inspired by his experience of being a VSO volunteer to set up the non-profit organisation and the two organisations have worked together in Malawi on a programme to widen access to technology. 

He said: “Business as usual is no longer acceptable. With winning the Global Learning XPRIZE, we are at the starting line, not the finish.” 

Onebillion now plans are to work with more international partners to translate the software into more languages. 

Philip Goodwin, chief executive of VSO said: "What these results show is that onecourse is a real solution. A solution to the stubborn challenge of illiteracy and innumeracy that undermines the potential of more than 350 million children worldwide. 

“Through our Unlocking Talent project in Malawi, we’ve seen first-hand how the combination of VSO’s skilled education volunteers and project management together with onebillion’s innovative technology can secure great outcomes for children. We are excited to be continuing to work with onebillion to see how this very exciting software can be used throughout Malawi and beyond."

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