Global Learning XPRIZE

The $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition that challenges teams from around the world to develop an open source, scalable software solution to enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is a global competition where content should be in English and a local language. Judges will award 5 finalists $1 million each and field test their software. The winning team will be awarded $10 million at the end of the field testing.

198 teams from around the world registered - only 6, including Tunapanda Institute, are based in a Swahili-speaking country or include primarily Swahili-speaking team members. The teams have until the 1st November 2016 to develop and send in their entry to the Global Learning XPRIZE.

Legendary entrepreneur Elon Musk put up the money for the contest. Take a look at their official video:


Why Tunapanda Joined the Competition

1)  Vested Interest and Local Knowledge

Many Tunapanda Institute team members grew up in rural parts of East Africa with limited access to electricity and learning materials. Even those of us who grew up in Nairobi know the difficulty and frustration caused by too many students and too few teachers. We understand where the Kenyan student is coming from and what would best encourage them to learn and succeed.

The Global Learning XPRIZE is being held in English and Swahili - both common languages in Kenya. This is our home field, and we want to be the ones who bring solutions to our communities. We speak the language of technology meshed with the experiences of schooling in Kenya. We know how we can contribute to the solution and the XPRIZE is the perfect opportunity.

2)  Unique Expertise

We are a team of peer-educators, leaders and change-makers. We run a technology, design, and business skills training facility in Kibera, one of Nairobi's largest informal settlements. We have experience using Human Centered Design to build Android software. We have designed educational content in English and Swahili. We have set up offline educational hubs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
We also have global support from our highly-experienced software development and research teams. Our software development and research teams are made up of highly dedicated experts from around the world with decades of experience. They share their expertise with us. The Tunapanda XPRIZE team has the right mix of local knowledge, experience, and expert knowledge to create a phenomenal product.

Members of our team focused on UX with students after a UI co-design session in Samburu, a very rural part of Kenya.

Members of our team focusing on UX (User Experience) with students after a UI (User Interface) co-design session in Samburu, a very rural part of Kenya. January 2016.

3)  This Is Who We Are

Part of our long-term vision is a collection of open source systems that can help people take the journey from technical illiteracy to world-class value-creating as professionals and entrepreneurs. Literacy and numeracy skills are the first steps on this journey. The Global Learning XPRIZE is pushing us to advance our timetable. We are using this opportunity to focus our energy on developing our software now.

Objective of the Competition

Our goal is to create an Android application and collection of games/content that can guide learners to numeracy and literacy in English and Swahili. The software and content needs to be openly-licensed, so it can be spread freely. It could even be used to create new sustainable business models around education delivery with minimal difficulty. The developed software/content needs to be submitted to the XPRIZE panel of judges before November 1st, 2016.


Benefits to the Community

tablet learning

Tablets are a useful learning tool here at Tunapanda Institute in the outskirts of Kibera, Nairobi.

Competing in the Global Learning XPRIZE brings many benefits:

  • Our team wins because we'll be developing new skills that will lead to increased career prospects, greater skills for creating content, more experience distributing software, and a better network of organizations to collaborate with.
  • The community wins because we'll still distribute the software/content throughout the community. It is Tunapanda’s strategy to train people in relevant digital era creative skills and then "crowdsource" content from those people.
  • If we win, it will allow us to rapidly scale our model for marketing and distributing our great new products. Even if we don’t win, we will have significantly advanced our timetable for developing and testing our educational ideas.

We'll crowdsource the locally-relevant materials with the local community by:

  1. Designing locally-relevant characters for use in educative animations, games, and graphics.
  2. Teaching people in Kibera the basics of design, animation, and game programming (all of which we already teach at our training facility) using wireless networking technology in conjunction with software and open learning resource which we've created to spread the information at low cost.
  3. Allowing people to submit and rate openly-licensed content around various stories in the curriculum we need.
  4. Curating, cleaning up, and testing the best content.

Get Involved

Interested in taking part?

Our team could use more:

  • Animation and character development skills.
  • Software development skills (particularly games).
  • Connections with potential deployment partners in East Africa.

Beyond that we are interested in discussing:

  • Sponsorship of our team or aspects of the software and curriculum development.
  • Funding testing trips to rural areas.

Thanks for reading! Please contact for more information or contribute now to supercharge our efforts.