10 edtech startups from Africa selected for Dubai’s ‘Next Billion’ EdTech Prize

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Claire with M-shule Runners up certificate at the GESA Awards 2016 in London

Ten edtech startups from Africa are among 30 finalists selected to pitch at this year’s Next Billion EdTech Prize, founded in 2018 by Indian billionaire Sunny Varkey’s Varkey Foundation, to recognize innovation in education in low income and emerging markets.

The 10 finalists from Africa will pitch before over 1500 delegates, venture capitalists, academics, remarkable teachers, education ministers and stakeholders coming together to solve global education problems. Varkey Foundation will also be hosting the $1 million Global Teacher Prize on the same day to celebrate outstanding teachers globally.

The 10 African startups include:

M-Shule, Kenya

M-Shule is an AI platform using SMS to continuously analyze each learner’s ability in order to generate personalized learning tracks and build their skills. It provides an integrated solution – easily accessible through SMS for parents and teachers, with a web app for school directors.

Eneza Education, Kenya

Eneza Education is a comprehensive virtual tutor providing universal access to affordable, quality, lifelong learning through mobile technology. The Mobile Learning Platform helps tackle Africa’s problems of illiteracy, school dropouts, high textbook costs and lack of quality feedback for learners. It has evolved from access on any mobile phone through USSD & SMS, to multi-device- smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Learners access the platform via mobile web, desktop, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram and teachers and school administrators are empowered by being equipped with relevant content.

eLimu, Kenya

Tackling the literacy crisis in Africa by focusing on local languages, eLimu makes literacy apps with relatable content, in local languages, and with scientifically proven pedagogy. eLimu relies on storytelling traditions and technology to promote learning and attainment, motivation and retention with contextualized learning.

ScholarX, Nigeria

ScholarX is a social impact startup focusing on education financing to help young Africans from low-income backgrounds access quality education through scholarships, crowdfunding and e-learning. After downloading the app from Google Play store and iTunes, users create an account then search for a list of scholarships that match their qualifications.

Etudesk, Cote D’ Ivoire

Etudesk aims to make online education more accessible to everyone in emerging markets. As a web platform helping organizations to build and easily manage their online training programs, it provides professional coaching for job seekers, including teachers, to help them find employment. They work with both the companies seeking employers as well as potential employees.

PraxiLabs, Egypt

Praxilabs provides virtual laboratories for schools and learning organisations in the Middle East and beyond. With 3D simulations of major experiments in biology, chemistry and physics, students can access these from their devices at any time. Additional multimedia files help students perform their scientific experiments and the whole process can be integrated within existing learning management systems of schools or education providers,  giving learners worldwide tools to experiment and learn science.

LangBot, Ethiopia

LangBot allows schools, teachers or publishers to easily create AI chatbots which act as personal language tutors that teach or prepare learners for tests using content they create on the platform. Tools are provided to content creators and teachers to develop their own lessons or plans and give personalized language teaching and testing to students. Technology, teaching and personalisation are carefully orchestrated by the teachers or content developers, underpinned by a technology solution which could prove a potential catalyst to scale language learning in multiple contexts.

Zelda, South Africa

Zelda is a mobile platform providing free career guidance to high school students and methods to help them find funding for tertiary education. Based on a student’s strengths, interests and passions, Zelda will make recommendations for the most appropriate bursaries and university opportunities. Focusing on aptitude as well as skillset, it allows students to make the most of their prospects in further education and the job market.

Ubongo, Tanzania

Ubongo leverages the power of entertainment, the reach of mass media, and the connectivity of mobile devices, to deliver effective, localized learning to African families at low cost and massive scale. Its family-friendly content promotes literacy and education in resource-poor areas. Through learning at home and in the family through a variety of channels, from online to radio and TV – multi-channel players, cartoons are a central part of its story telling approach.

Mtabe, Tanzania

Mtabe is an AI-powered platform providing personalized instant learning content and answers from a virtual tutor via SMS, using artificial intelligence to deliver this to students without internet access. As 70% of Africans have no internet access, this particularly impacts secondary school students in rural villages who also do not have access to textbooks (in Tanzania, the textbook-student ratio is 1:10 and teacher-student ratio is 1:55, with an average school having at least 1,500 students).