The $15 million prize that’s transforming access to education

The $15 million prize that’s transforming access to education

Ben Bain is an Associate in Prize Operations at XPRIZE, working on the Global Learning XPRIZE. He previously served as an Army Infantry officer and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He earned his MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Global Learning XPRIZE_header_Page_1_669I have met countless children worldwide who have limitless enthusiasm for learning, but limited options. When I served in the Army and deployed to rural Afghanistan, I came across hundreds of boys and girls who traveled to school over extreme terrain in very dangerous environments (sometimes in the middle of firefights) just to participate in classes rendered ineffective by a lack of resources and trained teachers. We as a global community can do better.

That is why I’m proud to be a part of XPRIZE whose motto is making the impossible possible. We use incentivized prize competitions to inspire new technologies to change the world. The Global Learning XPRIZE promises $15 million to the teams that develop the best open source software to teach basic reading, writing, and math to children with no access to quality education.

ONE points out in its report, Poverty is Sexist: Why Girls and Women Must be at the Heart of the Fight to End Extreme Poverty, that “if all students in LICs [Low-Income Countries] could leave school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, which would be equivalent to a 12% cut in world poverty.” This competition is important because without a tremendous expansion in global access to quality learning, the 250 million children around the world who cannot read or write will never have the opportunity to learn their way to a better life.

Girls’ equal access to education is of particular importance. Improving education for girls is a powerful development approach with significant follow-on effects. Educated girls marry later, gain confidence to assert their rights, and seek better healthcare for themselves and their families.


The Global Learning XPRIZE sponsored the recent Mobile Learning Week for Women and Girls hosted by UNESCO and UN Women. After speaking with education and development experts, we recognize the technology that comes out of this competition can help provide quality learning to girls in parts of the world where access and security are problems.

We need your help to truly impact the future of global education. Form a team and compete. Join the discussion on our community forum. Help spread the word to your friends and co-workers. Visit our website to learn more and be part of the effort. I am inspired by the children who go to unbelievable lengths for the chance of lighting up with pride at learning something new. The Global Learning XPRIZE wants to give every child the opportunity for a great education and future.


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