PLUS addresses the lack of access to quality education in restricted villages around the world. It couples an innovative use of technology, which makes online content available offline through a learning platform on tablet, with a “flipped” classroom. In so doing, children receive a dynamic experience with proven learning outcomes.
250 million children around the world can’t read, write or count despite 4 years of schooling (http://en.unesco.org/themes/literacy-all). From spending over a decade working in Indian villages, we believe that the restrictions to quality education therein include:
- Fluctuating electricity.
- Little-to-no internet.
- Unavailability of quality teachers.
Specifically, our understanding is that:
- Despite an abundance of quality educational content available online, it is mostly unavailable offline, and inaccessible without technology.
- Whilst tablet technology is increasing in quality and reducing in price, it is often unaffordable in villages.
Our solution is designed to overcome these restrictions, enabling quality learning in village environments.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
We have validated that 40K PLUS displays accelerated learning outcomes at an affordable price. Our theory of change is that greater learning outcomes and better education will allow children to have increased opportunity for better employment, thus lifting themselves out of poverty.
Our focus is on the learning outcomes, which we can control. There are currently 1,400 children whose pace of progression we analyse and strive to accelerate (currently 7 lessons/month average). Through baseline testing we have proven that one year of attending PLUS has the equivalent effect of 2.5 years of attending government school for literacy.
Our solution's stage of development:
Our target outcomes:
Our target outcomes are to:
(a) Achieve accelerated learning outcomes and
(b) To do so at ultra-low cost for primary aged children in developing countries.
In two years, PLUS will be increasing learning outcomes for 8,300 primary-aged children in India and Cambodia through a combination of after-school learning centres (called Pods) and through government schools. In 10 years, our aim is for 40K PLUS to be integrated into 3,500 schools in 10 countries, impacting 1.1million children daily. In so doing, PLUS will achieve globally recognised learning outcomes in English, quantified through data driven evidence aligned to international English Frameworks.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The countries we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
PLUS is unique in how it blends technology, content and delivery together to scale education quality in a restricted environment.
- We aggregate learning content to match local curriculum needs, and only build content to make it culturally sensitive.
- Our technology system makes this content available offline through repurposing a raspberry pi, router and tablet technology.
- The facilitator’s role has been flipped to target motivation of the children, not instruction. This means PLUS can be run without qualified teachers.
As a social enterprise, we charge $US2/month/child. This is unique because once set up in a village, it is financially self-sustaining.
Why our solution is human-centered:
40K PLUS is human-centred because it has been designed entirely within a village, with the communities, to ensure it is meeting their needs. This includes:
- We constantly test system improvements with the children before they are rolled out.
- PLUS has unique log-ins for children so that it can accommodate a multi-pace, multi-level, and multi-age environment.
- Our system is run by a local female hired from the village, so that it is community operated for consistency.
- Selling the service creates a strong feedback loop to ensure that it is meeting our customers’ expectations.
How people will access our solution:
In India, up to 50 children/village attend rented spaces after-school for 75 minutes/day. In Cambodia, PLUS integrates into government schools during class.
We’ve built a 3-part technology system to operate within these environments:
- Cloud-based dashboard: Houses licensed education content. We can add, remove and edit lessons/assessments, and track student data.
- SneakerSync: Made up of a Master App, Raspberry Pi and Wi-Fi router, this allows two-way movement of data offline.
- Learning App: As a platform, it aggregates content into a gamified learning pathway onto a low-cost tablet, only unlocking levels when children have mastered a concept.
Technology-Readiness Level:6-8 (Demonstration)
Where we are located:Australia
How we will sustain our team financially:
We are building to the point when our revenue lines will cover our expanded operations including continual investment in our product innovation. To do so, we have planted the seeds of promising revenue prospects:
- We’re running business model experiments to improve the P&L at the village-level in India.
- We intend to charge $US5/child/year in Cambodian government schools.
- We’ve built a second business owned by our Foundation called 40K Globe (www.40kglobe.com.au), whose profits ($200,000 with prospects for growth) contribute to our development.
- We’re starting a Stage One sponsorship with Lenovo this year for donated tablets.
- We’re negotiating the first enterprise licensing agreement to sell our service commercially in Cambodia, to cross-subsidise our cost base.
- We intend to sell 40K PLUS to private schools and language schools in India.
Until that point, we require approximately $1million/year to fund CapEx and growth.
The factors limiting our success:
- Risk: Cost overruns occur with development tasks that we have not undertaken before.
- Mitigation: A cost buffer of 20% has been included in all development budget items.
- Risk: We fail to build effective revenue generation into our model to accommodate growing costs not reliant on philanthropy.
- Mitigation: Now that we have demonstrated a product-market fit, invest in business development of revenue opportunities.
- Risk: We lack organizational bandwidth to maintain growth and innovation curve.
- Mitigation: Continue to invest in building a stronger team, with strong succession planning.
How long we have been working on our solution:4 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:We have already scaled beyond pilot.
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
Our promotional materials:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
Creating access to quality education in restricted developing world communities is a truly wicked problem, which requires active collaboration. We want to join the Solve community because:
- 40K PLUS is centred entirely for people in restricted environments. This matches the ethos of Solve.
- Everything we do is about hacking together the lowest-price, highest quality program. Your community could assist in designing and developing this outcome.
- Scale is at the heart of our program. Your networks may help us with selecting and rolling out the program to the 3rd, 4th and 5th countries.
Our current partners:
- Atlassian (technical advisory + funding),
- Room to Read (Cambodia launch),
- Lenovo (tablet sponsorship),
- Content providers (e.g. Genki English, Fantastic Phonics),
- DFAT Innovation xChange (from winning Google Impact Challenge Technology Against Poverty Prize).
- 40K Globe (bootstrap funding- www.40kglobe.com.au).
- Herbert Smith Freehills (pro bono lawyers)
- Carmatec (developers)
- Clary Castrission CEO, 40K PLUS