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India’s education tech startup bags prize for innovative impact


London, Apr 9: India's education technology startup 'Dost Education' has bagged a USD 25,000 tech prize along with two other winners from Tanzania and Egypt. The Next Billion Edtech Prize 2019, run by UK-based Varkey Foundation, recognises the most innovative technology destined to have a radical impact on education in low income and emerging world countries.

Dost was awarded for its ability to empower parents to take charge of their child’s early education by creating short, friendly audio content that is sent to them via their mobile phones.

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"Dost software, audio content, and toolkits make it easy, fun and addictive for parents to boost their child’s early development, so low-income families need no longer send their children to primary school behind and without a chance to catch up,” noted the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF), where the award was announced in Dubai last month.

[When Start up and Make in India got a boost in four years of Modi govt

"It’s really exciting to bring Dost to the global stage at GESF and be one of the three winners of the prize, it motivates us even more to keep working on our mission to help parents to unlock their child’s full potential,” said Dost CEO Sneha Sheth.

Six finalists were chosen to pitch on the main GESF plenary stage in front of over 1,500 delegates. Besides India’s Dost, the other winners to also receive USD 25,000 each included Ubongo from Tanzania and PraxiLabs from Egypt. Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Next Billion Prize said: "We use the 'Next Billion Prize’ to highlight technology’s potential to tackle the problems that have proven too difficult for successive generations of politicians to solve.

“Our fervent hope is that the prize inspires practical and persistent entrepreneurs the world over to come forward with fresh tech ideas.” The winners were selected by an expert panel of judges made up of venture capitalists, philanthropic investors, experts in Edtech and learning sciences, and senior education policy makers, led by 'TechCrunch’ Editor-at-Large Mike Butcher. Vikas Pota, Group Chief Executive of Tmrw Digital and Board Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, noted: “The EdTech prize joins some of most important players from the spheres of education and technology together.

[When Start up and Make in India got a boost in four years of Modi govt][When Start up and Make in India got a boost in four years of Modi govt]

“Startups will have access to every type of stakeholder – from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to former and current education ministers, foundations, academics and the world’s best teachers. They can draw on their expertise and support to build products that will work as well in the classroom as they do in a pitch.”

From the three winners, delegates then voted for Ubongo to be crowned as the overall winner and take home the Next Billion Prize trophy for its ability to leverage the power of entertainment, the reach of mass media, and the connectivity of mobile devices, to deliver effective, localised learning to African families at low cost and massive scale. PraxiLabs, the third winner, provides virtual laboratories for schools and learning organisations in the Middle East and beyond.

As many as 30 startups were selected to pitch over three days for the Next Billion Edtech Prize, which focuses on low income and emerging economies. The Next Billion Prize was named to remind the world of a billion young people – a number growing every day – that are being denied an education, the organisers said. Its aim is to identify, spotlight and celebrate the world’s leading EdTech startups that have shown through ingenuity and innovation that they can improve learning in parts of the world where there is limited access to good quality teaching.


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