JOHANNESBURG – South African startup Zelda has been chosen as one of 30 finalists in a competition in Dubai which recognises the innovative use of technology with the potential to impact education in low income and emerging economies, organisers said on Tuesday.

Zelda is a mobile platform which provides free career guidance to high school students and advice on securing tertiary education funding.

The 30 finalists will compete in a pitch contest at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai next month which is expected to bring together over 1,500 delegates to discuss solutions to the most pressing issues in the sector.

This will culminate in the award of the Next Billion Edtech prize and the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize. 

The Next Billion prize was so named as a reminder of the billion young people – a number growing every day – being denied an education that would allow them to make the most of their talents. 

"The Next Billion prize was created to shine a light on those gifted entrepreneurs that are not only ingenious but also bold and persistent enough to bring forward the revolutionary ideas that are desperately needed to transform education in those parts of the world where there is limited access to high-quality teaching," said Vikas Pota, CEO of Tmrw Digital which runs the contest.

“Our fervent hope is that the prize inspires this new breed of entrepreneur the world over to come forward with the fresh thinking that is needed to help give every child their birthright; access to a great education.”

The top three finalists will each get $25,000 and the winner will also receive the Next Billion prize trophy.

The Next Billion prize highlights technology’s potential to tackle the problems that have proven too difficult for politicians to solve, founder Sunny Varkey said.

"The power to change education systems at all levels no longer lies exclusively in the hands of the political and business elite through the traditional models of global policymaking," Varkey said.

"Change-makers can be those who work away from the spotlight in startups located across the world.”

African News Agency (ANA)