Google.org has announced a $50 million commitment over two years in support of tech-based learning solutions designed to address global education challenges.
The funds will support nonprofit organizations working to address a range of challenges, including limited access to educational materials, underresourced teachers, and barriers to learning outside the classroom. According to Google.org, 221 million students around the world are taught in a language that is foreign to them, 130 million children are unable to read or do basic math after four years of primary school, and 74 percent of students have little or no Internet connectivity. With a focus on providing students with quality materials, supporting teacher development, and reaching students in conflict zones, Google.org plans to award grants to organizations in twenty countries by the end of 2017, followed by a second round of grants at a later date. In addition, Google employees will provide volunteer assistance to grantees in areas such as user experience design, translation, offline functionality, and data analytics.
To date, nine grants have been awarded, including $5 million to the Foundation for Learning Equality, which builds free open-source software to enable educators in even the most remote locations to access, organize, and customize digital content through a platform that runs on various devices. Other grantees include the Million Sparks Foundation in India, which was awarded $1.2 million for ChalkLit, an app-based platform that addresses the country's teacher shortage by combining curriculum-aligned lesson plans, learning modules, and videos with an online community; War Child Holland, which will receive $2.5 million in support of Can't Wait to Learn, a game-based curriculum that enables children displaced by conflict to learn in informal settings; the Clooney Foundation for Justice; the Pratham Education Foundation; and Khan Academy.
"We've seen there's a role for technology to play in creating a richer learning environment," Google.org education lead Brigitte Hoyer-Gosselink told Devex, "but only if we can get all teachers and students really benefiting from it."