Pearson Affordable Learning Fund announced two minority equity investments in low-cost private schools, eAdvance in South Africa and Zaya Labs in India, today.
eAdvance manages SPARK schools, currently teaching 360 primary students near Johannesburg. Zaya Labs provides 27 schools with blended learning solutions.
SPARK is the first primary private school network in Africa that follows a blended learning approach, offering brick and mortar classrooms as well as online teaching. SPARK aims to open over sixty schools over the next decade.
The World Economic Forum ranks South Africa 146th out of 148 countries for educational quality, and last in mathematics and science education according to the press release. SPARK achieved a year and a half growth among its students during the 2013 school year while being more affordable than other private schools due to the blended learning model.
Zaya Labs created a “Lab Kit” that enables schools in low-income settings to easily setup blended learning environments in which the students divide their time between learning sessions on a tablet device, with the teacher and group learning activities.
In India 60% of its children never complete primary school and 90% of students never reach college which led to an explosive growth of the private education sector from an estimated $40 billion in 2008 to $70 billion by 2012 while private school enrolment of primary school students rose from 19% in 2006 to an estimated 29% in 2013 according to the Annual Status of Education Report.
The eAdvance and Zaya Labs mark investment number four and five of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. Launched in 2012 with $15 million in capital, PALF aims to invest in startups that support local communities in developing countries through innovation in education. The fund has already invested in startups in India, Ghana and the Philippines.
Pearson Affordable Learning Fund also works together with Village Capital on an incubator program for early stage edtech startups in India. The program for 2014 will be announced soon.
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