Press release

$15M Global Learning XPRIZE Culminates With Two Grand Prize Winners

Sponsored by Businesswire

Today, XPRIZE,
the global leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to
solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced two grand prize winners in
the $15M
Global Learning XPRIZE
. The tie between Kitkit School, from South
Korea and the United States, and onebillion, from Kenya and the United
Kingdom, was revealed at an awards ceremony hosted at the Google Spruce
Goose Hangar in Playa Vista, where supporters and benefactors including
Elon Musk celebrated all five finalist teams for their efforts.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Emily Church, executive director of the Global Learning XPRIZE, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and  ...

Emily Church, executive director of the Global Learning XPRIZE, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of XPRIZE, Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE, and Elon Musk, who provided XPRIZE with the $10M prize purse, present the two grand prize winning teams of the Global Learning XPRIZE, Kitkit School and onebillion, with a $5 million check, each (Courtesy Jesse Grant, Getty).

Launched in 2014, the Global Learning XPRIZE challenged innovators
around the globe to develop scalable solutions that enable children to
teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within 15 months.
After being selected as finalists, five teams received $1M each and went
on to field test their education technology solution in Swahili,
reaching nearly 3,000 children across 170 villages in Tanzania. To help
ensure anyone, anywhere can iterate, improve upon, and deploy the
learning solutions in their own community, all five finalists’ software
are open source. All five learning programs are currently available in
both Swahili and English on GitHub,
including instructions on how to localize into other languages.

The competition offered a $10 million grand prize to the team whose
solution enabled the greatest proficiency gains in reading, writing and
arithmetic in the field test. After reviewing the field test data, an
independent panel of judges found indiscernible results between the top
two performers, and determined two grand prize winners would split the
prize purse, receiving $5M each:

  • Kitkit
    (Berkeley, United States, and Seoul, South Korea)
    developed a learning program with a game-based core and flexible
    learning architecture aimed at helping children independently learn,
    irrespective of their knowledge, skill, and environment.
  • onebillion
    (London, United Kingdom, and Nairobi, Kenya) merged numeracy content
    with new literacy material to offer directed learning and creative
    activities alongside continuous monitoring to respond to different
    children’s needs.

Currently, more
than 250 million children around the world cannot read or write
, and
according to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, about
one in every five children are out of school
– a figure that has
barely changed over the past five years. Compounding the issue is a
massive shortage of teachers at the primary and secondary levels
with research showing that the world must recruit 68.8 million teachers
to provide every child with primary and secondary education by 2030.

Before the Global Learning XPRIZE field test, 74% of the participating
children were reported as never attending school, 80% reported as never
being read to at home, and over 90% of participating children could not
read a single world in Swahili. After 15 months of learning on Pixel C
tablets donated by Google and preloaded with one of the five finalists’
learning software, that number was cut in half. Additionally, in math
skills, all five software were equally as effective for girls and boys.

Collectively over the course of the competition, the five finalist teams
invested approximately $200M in research, development, and testing for
their software, a total that rises to nearly $300M when including all
198 registered teams.

“Education is a fundamental human right, and we are so proud of all the
teams and their dedication and hard work to ensure every single child
has the opportunity to take learning into their own hands,” said
Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “Learning how to read, write and
demonstrate basic math are essential building blocks for those who want
to live free from poverty and its limitations, and we believe that this
competition clearly demonstrated the accelerated learning made possible
through the educational applications developed by our teams, and
ultimately hope that this movement spurs a revolution in education

The grand prize winners and the following finalist teams were chosen
from a field of 198 teams from 40 countries:

  • CCI
    (New York, United States) developed structured and sequential
    instructional programs, in addition to a platform seeking to enable
    non-coders to develop engaging learning content in any language or
    subject area.
  • Chimple
    (Bangalore, India) created a learning platform aimed at enabling
    children to learn reading, writing and mathematics on a tablet through
    more than 60 explorative games and 70 different stories.
  • RoboTutor
    (Pittsburgh, United States) leveraged Carnegie Mellon’s research in
    reading and math tutors, speech recognition and synthesis, machine
    learning, educational data mining, cognitive psychology, and
    human-computer interaction.

“By making each software open source, the Global Learning XPRIZE and the
finalist teams are providing an advanced tool that the world can build
upon and adapt to needs of their specific community. We believe this is
a major advancement for the global movement to transform how we can help
to bring quality learning to children anywhere,” said Executive Director
of the Global Learning XPRIZE Emily Church. “Children everywhere,
whether they do not have access to school, have had intermittent access
to a classroom, or want to supplement their current education, have the
basic human right to learn.”

The Global Learning XPRIZE was made possible by the generosity and
support of a
consortium of benefactors, philanthropists and partners
the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Government of Tanzania.

Following the grand prize announcement, XPRIZE is working to secure and
load the software onto tablets; localize the software into different
languages; and deliver preloaded hardware and charging stations to
remote locations so all finalist teams can scale their learning software
across the world. The public is invited to sign
the pledge
to show their support and join the Global
Learning XPRIZE community
to help provide an education for all
children, everywhere.

For more information, visit


XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and
implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest
challenges. Active competitions include the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon
XPRIZE, the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery
XPRIZE, and the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE. For more information, visit