24. June 2013–
When thinking of ways to fight poverty in third-world countries, most people wouldn't automatically jump to online education. But newly-launched Berlin startup Allversity thinks there's a lot of potential to improve standards of living via free internet courses: from basic first aid to child nutrition to an introduction to computing.
The not-for-profit company describes Allversity as a "MOOC platform for developing nations". The two founders, Shane McMillan and Christian Kroll, came up with the idea after living in Ghana and Nepal and becoming disillusioned with the general standard of education.
Allversity links users with experts in areas of health, entrepreneurship, agriculture, life skills and human rights. The team is in contact with community leaders and youth via local partnerships with over 50 community knowledge centres across Africa and South East Asia. They are working together to brainstorm course ideas and the best method to teach them. In the long run, the Allversity team wants to connect students and communities to work on their own projects and introduce more partnerships with other organisations.
The courses are generally short and easy to understand, although they are in English at the moment – problematic, considering English is not necessarily widespread in their target nations. The team plans on translating the courses into Hindi, Swahili, French and Arabic via crowdsourcing in the future.
Another immediately apparent issue is the relatively low internet penetration in their target region of Africa – the team is working to overcome this by developing a mobile version that can be used offline and notes smartphone usage is expected to reach 40 per cent of Africa's population by 2017.
Allversity joins fellow Berlin startup Knowable, another social enterprise (though the latter is more about teaching people how to make hands-on items such as solar light-bulbs from easily available materials and waste).
It's a nice change from social discovery, that's for sure.
Featured image credit: Flickr user One Laptop per Child