When we started the project back in August 2016 there was lots of discussion about what would be the best apps to use if we really wanted to impact student’s learning in schools. Whilst searching the app store for ‘Maths Education’ the options seem near endless, the number with a strong base of evidence for improving learning are few and far between. If you also include those which are available in local languages, or at least that have been used in East Africa the results became practically non-existent.
The real stand-out amongst the rest was an app called OneBillion, created by a team in the UK but piloted in Malawi it aims to help build basic numeracy skills for children aged 3-7. It has been subject to a number of rigorous, randomised control trials, and consistently shown impressive results both in Africa and back in the UK.
A lot has happened in the nearly 3-years since starting this project. There was a global competition called the Global Learning X-Prize, in which 150 teams from around the world competed over 2 years to produce a technology-based solution that could help children around the world team themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic. These teams were reduced to 5 finalists, which then spent a further 2 years undergoing a large scale trial of their apps with 2,500 students in Tanzania. Just last month the grand prize of $15M was awarded, and actually split between two teams, KitKit School – a collaborative game created by teams at Berkely, US and Seoul, South Korea, and OneBillion!
We, of course, would like to share a huge congratulations to all the teams who took part and the overall winners. It has been incredibly exciting to see just how much the landscape of educational technology has changed in such a short time and provides some incredible opportunities for the future. We look forward to continuing our work with such fantastic partners and are highly grateful for the support from everyone who has helped enable us to bring these opportunities to children in Kenya. For more information about the project see https://samicharity.co.uk/samis-projects/digital-communities/