Early Childhood Development for a Better Society


Early Childhood Development for a Better Society

Seedstars Global

MAY 19, 2021

While the world population is aging, emerging markets across Africa and some parts of Asia have a median age of 20 and four in ten Africans are below the age of 15. Unfortunately, those same countries are among the poorest and least developed according to the UN Human Development Index. Poverty has made children in developing countries vulnerable to risks that would compromise their development and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

Ages zero to five are critical, but in emerging markets child mortality rates are high due to malnutrition and poor healthcare. Early childhood development is important as it is the foundation of building blocks for successful later development in all areas- from physical and cognitive abilities to educational achievements and economic productivity.

At this point, it is inevitable that technology will be an integral part of the young generation’s lives from the start. With the shift to online learning during the pandemic it has become apparent that education is changing, both the educational content and the way children are taught. Having in mind that the educational system implemented today still largely resembles the one formatted during the Industrial Revolution, some would say that it was high time for a change.

Technology creating equity and accessibility

Millions of children are out of education, and around 617 million are unable to reach minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics according to UNICEF. The next big challenge for governments and educational institutions around the world will be how to make education more accessible and provide every student with what they need to be as successful as possible. Ensuring early childhood development and wellbeing means a better society down the line, and technological solutions can help not only children, but also parents, caregivers and teachers in ensuring the best possible education.

Technologies that support lifelong learning and scale access to quality education are one of key priorities to address historical shortcomings in this high-impact sector. Digital solutions improve the experience of learners creating new educational opportunities with improved outcomes. We have been working with private and public institutions and the startups in our portfolio have impacted over 700,000 learners.

We have also worked on Anjal Z, an initiative led by the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority. This was an 8-week high impact growth program for scale-ups that focus on improving Early Childhood Development across Health & Nutrition, Early Care & Education, Child Protection and Family Support targeting children up to 8 years of age. Five startups had the chance to work with various mentors and were introduced to numerous key private and public partners.

Startups helping children, parents and caregivers

Looking at the startups shortlisted for the Childhood Development Prize, there are several trends noticeable- think video content, gamification, online courses etc. Here are some of the innovative startups developing solutions in this sector:

  • Zydii: A startup that brings end-to-end online and offline digital learning solutions tailored for African businesses.
  • iSchoolConnect: A startup that improves school admissions by utilizing marketing, recruitment, assessment & engagement.
  • ELN Limited: Is a startup that provides 100% online, globally accredited vocational training to over 25 countries in education, quality assurance & health and safety.
  • ABC Planet: Is a startup that is revolutionizing preschool education with the magic of cartoons and mobile gaming.
  • Okoo (Millenium Education): Is an educational platform for kids powered with an advanced AI and analytics system that helps to learn how to code.
  • Tomyo: Is an EdTech platform enabling customers to have affordable access to learn or teach from anywhere.
  • EduSynch: Is an online assessment platform for institutions to deliver tests remotely, securely, and at scale.
  • Boki: Is an educational tool with challenging activities and really fun exercises that help students learn while enjoying it.
  • Alphazed: Is a gamified education platform for Arab kids that can consume any school- or country- curriculum and outputs a gamified content.
  • Twin Science & Robotics: Is an edtech company developing 21st-century skills and competency among children by providing them STEAM kits and app.

The winner of the Childhood Development Prize is the Syrian startup Alphazed. Their strong team has developed the first app to use artificial intelligence to teach the Arabic language to children. They have used a novel approach to gamifying content and using interactive story modes to teach more than 30,000 worlds in Arabic. The app also has an interactive chat mode where the AI can detect the child’s verbal mistakes and therefore improve their pronunciation.

With the pandemic showing flaws in the current education system, but also opportunities for innovation there is no doubt that education will be one of the hottest topics in the upcoming years.

Join us during the Grand Finale on May 20th at 2 pm CET, when we will be not only awarding the Childhood Development Prize, but also host a panel discussion on 21st Century Education for 21st Century Skills.

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