ProFuturo, the digital education programme created by Telefónica Foundation and ¨la Caixa¨ Foundation, and Wayra, the Telefónica Open Innovation Hub, have put out a worldwide call in search of innovative projects to contribute to tackling the technological and educational challenges that ProFuturo faces in the vulnerable environments where it operates.
ProFuturo, that seeks to narrow the education gap in the world by improving the quality of education of boys and girls throughout 38 countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, implements its programme in vulnerable environments where schools often have no energy or internet connectivity.
On top of these infrastructural constraints, other challenges include the lack of technological resources (routers, computers, tablets) and quality educational content, as well as the difficulty to find teachers with the digital skills required to introduce technology in the classroom.
Entrepreneurs and startups presenting projects must meet these and other challenges. Specifically, the call looks for projects that offer energy access and connectivity solutions to equip the schools with quality educational and digital resources; or projects that apply Artificial Intelligence to education to personalise teaching and improve learning results using learning analytics tools.
Candidates can submit their projects until September 30th. An assessment process will select ten projects, which will be presented in person before a selection committee. Aspects such as the social and educational impact of the project, its level of innovation, how scalable and self-sustainable it is, the experience and skills of the team and the potential the project has to improve ProFuturo’s education proposal, will be assessed.
Up to three startups will be selected and offered a workspace in one of Wayra´s Innovation Hubs, where they will receive speed-up and mentoring support for six months from ProFuturo so they can further develop their project. Subsequently, a future collaboration plan will be studied and the possibility of conducting a pilot test in one of the schools where ProFuturo operates will be assessed.
Trial runs in Mexico, Kenya and Brazil
This is the second time ProFuturo and Wayra have put out a call for projects. Sixty-five project proposals from 13 countries were received last year. Of the three winning startups, two have piloted their projects in schools where the Telefónica Foundation and “la Caixa” Foundation programme is being implemented.
Cerebriti, the Spanish startup that introduces gamification into the classroom to enable teachers and students to create and share their own games, thereby boosting creativity and fostering teamwork, have tried out their project in five schools in Mexico with primary-school students from grades 4 to 6. Meanwhile, the British firm Eedi has piloted its assessment solution in five schools in Kenya. Through digital questionnaires, this project allows measuring student knowledge levels and detecting learning weaknesses, as well as concepts that can be confusing.
The Portuguese startup Ubbu has created a platform that enables teachers and students alike to take the first steps in computational thinking and digital literacy and programming. This platform is to be piloted in Manaus (Brazil) in 14 primary schools with students from grades 1 to 6.