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The XPRISE Foundation, which has tackled more exotic projects like Star Trek-style tricorders and space flight, is spending millions of dollars on a project that’s a bit more grounded. The goal of the new initiative is simple: teaching children to read and do the math. The challenge is that these children live far from an elementary school and that resources are limited. The idea is to use technology and innovation to help these children learn, with software that will hopefully be able to replace some of the people and other resources they don’t have available.
Elon Musk project brings technology to Tanzanian children
Millions of children around the world lack access to primary education. Some of them live in rural villages in countries like Tanzania, and this is where the foundation has chosen to start their project. Google has supplied 8000 tablets to be distributed to children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to school and who are mostly illiterate.
The most unorthodox thing about this project may be how the software is sourced. The learning tools the kids will use are being created by contestants in a large, global competition, now whittled down to 11 finalists out of a field of almost two hundred. All the entries must be open source, meaning the teams must make their products available for free use and for others to build and improve upon. However, five million out of the project budget will be going to the finalists as prize money, with the potential to earn another 10 million if their product shows the best results in the final tests.
Five finalist products will move ahead into the testing phase, where the Tanzanian children will be using them for 18 months. There will be tests given before and after to gauge the learners’ progress. The foundation hopes that they can then expand the most successful ones to other areas where children lack access to traditional schools, such as refugee camps.