Children in developing countries will be able to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills

New XPrize wants to replace teachers with smart software

XPRIZE foundation has launched a new competition inviting software engineers to develop tools that would enable children in developing countries to teach themselves trivia skills.

The $15m (£9.2m) Global Learning XPrize will open with a six-month team registration period followed by an 18-month first round that will see teams developing open source scalable education software to help children in developing countries acquire basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

The submissions will be evaluated by a 30-strong judging panel with the best concepts awarded $1m of funding to implement their solutions.

The Prize has been announced by XPRIZE CEO Peter Diamandis during a presentation at the Social Good Summit.

“With the awarding of the Ansari XPRIZE 10 years ago, we catalysed the commercial spaceflight industry, which has now grown to become a multi-billion-dollar industry,” Diamandis said referring to the Foundation’s most famous venture which resulted in the Space Ship One spaceplane later bought by Virgin Galactic.

“Today, we are thrilled to launch our next world-changing competition to revolutionise global literacy. We will never build enough schools or train enough teachers to meet demand, which brings us to a pivotal moment where an alternative, radical approach is needed.”

The solutions developed in the second phase of the competition will be field-tested during an 18-month trial that will involve at least 100 villages in English speaking developing countries. 

The team whose software teaches the children the most will receive a $10m prize for further development and implementation.

The XPRIZE foundation, dedicated to help develop solutions to address the biggest challenges of humanity through technology, will also launch an online crowd-funding campaign to mobilise a global street team of supporters to get involved with the competition.

Every dollar pledged will go towards optimising the success of the prize, specifically focusing on supporting team recruitment globally and expanding field testing.

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