Tech Bets for an Urban World
Blended Learning

Digital Learning

Platforms which allow teachers to integrate online games and content into lessons in classrooms, with the aim of enhancing primary or secondary education, by better engaging children and teaching them new skills.

Potential Market Size (by 2022):

7-15 Billion USD; 200-300 Million Users

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91% of children will go to primary school…but 68% of them will reach the last grade of primary without minimum levels of proficiency in reading.*


It is expensive to provide high quality schooling.

It costs on average 6,000 USD in developing countries to put a child through primary and secondary education, which is more than is available currently from parents, Governments and international development partners.

It is hard to keep the curriculum up-to-date.

There is already a chronic shortage of textbooks in schools, and it is expensive to update materials. Authors of the national curriculum are often not well-equipped to update them for the 21st century, and suffer from a lack of funding or political backing.

It is difficult to train high-quality teachers.

The world needs 16 million additional teachers to reach universal education by
2020 and Governments often see the first priority as increasing supply, rather than improving quality. After they graduate, few teachers will receive additional training.

It is tough to keep institutions and teachers accountable.

For example, in Kenya, 4 out of 10 teachers are absent from class at any given time. Schools and Governments have limited tools to keep track of student performance and opportunities for improvement.


Source: “Education Costs per Child” Global Partnership for Education 2017; “UIS Fact Sheet” UNESCO 2016; “Service Delivery Indicators: Kenya Report” World Bank 2013; World Bank Open Data accessed 2017



People are eager for schools to move away from rote learning

Students, teachers, and parents want to shake up the education system. They recognize the limitations of ‘see and repeat’ learning. But they do not feel connected to the school system and are not empowered to create change.


"The education system is one where students are being talked to and told to memorize and regurgitate. Critical thinking is not part of the curriculum."
Viona, 29, Jakarta


"Here students never learn how to actually do. It’s about learning the answer and writing it correct on a test. So many graduate but have no skills."
Ephriam, 21, Nairobi

Students want to learn how to think for themselves

Young people are eager to learn by doing and engage with practical problems. 65% of the children entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist*


"Here so many people just get a job and do it exactly as they are told. People don’t have the drive or the creativity really to think outside the box. People are afraid to try new things."
Alex, 14, Jakarta


"We need to learn how to be more practical. How to put the knowledge into action."
Maggie, 21, Nairobi

However, they don't want to go at it alone

The students we spoke to were clear that they value in-person interaction and believe it is a critical part of learning and development. Creating the right balance of online and offline experiences speeds up learning and reduces drop-outs.


"Interacting with a teacher and letting students know they have a place and a person to turn to is one important part of feeling excited about learning."
Sylvia, 19, Mexico


"It’s been really great having an online and offline component at our school. We’re able to absorb on our own and come together to discuss and debate in person after some time."
Karla, 38, Mexico


*Source: “The Future of Jobs” World Economic Forum 2016



Emerging market revenue could be 7-15B USD. If Governments commit to blended learning in public schools, then revenue and users would almost double.


Potential Revenue
in Billions (USD)
addressable market

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Potential Users
in Millions

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Based on Mexico City market:

  • 60-80 USD for each child annually
  • 75-95% ability to pay in urban private schools
  • 25-50% use in urban public schools with internet access
  • 50% discount for public schools

Extrapolated to global, taking country populations and adjusting for:

  • GDP per capita (PPP)
  • Urban student population
  • Split of public/private students
  • Internet usage

Extrapolated to 5 years time using projected figures for the year 2022

5 yrs time with even more access for BoP

  • Increased uptake across public schools (to same levels as private schools)
  • A further discount to 60% for bulk procurement in the public sector


Blended learning technologies meet user needs when they...

Increase student engagement and can be adapted to different learning styles.


Complement content delivered in classrooms by teachers.

Teach digital skills students will need later in life.


Measure and track progress more efficiently and effectively.

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Yogome is a personalized learning games company founded in Mexico City by Manolo Díaz and Alberto Colin in 2010. Yogome offer a platform of more than 1000 games intended for children aged 5 to 12 years. They cover 8 subjects, including coding, math, science and languages.

Yogome’s content was designed with input from teachers and education specialists, including through a partnership with Yale University’s Play2PREVENT laboratory. The Yogome platform was first launched as a B2C product, with parents paying a yearly subscription.

“The teacher will never disappear. But we can have tools that help the teacher make smarter decisions.”
Manolo Díaz, Yogome Co-Founder

Founded: 2010
Based in: Mexico City/San Francisco
Employees: 50+
Subscriptions: 0.5-1 million
Revenue: 5-10M USD (est.)
Total Investment: ~10M USD
Investment Stage: (Seed + Series A)
Business Model: Combined B2C (Parents) and B2G/B2B (Teachers)



There is a small group of digital learning innovators starting to tap Mexico’s market potential


The Customers

End User:
Children (and their teachers) in the school classroom

Who pays?
Public and private schools (K-12), sometimes as part of a wider Learning Management System. In most cases the school-based offering is complemented by a home-based option, which is paid for by parents

Sources: Dalberg interviews, and analysis of World Bank data, PISA data, ITU data, and investment press releases 2017 (or latest available year)

Investment to Date

USD 50 Million

Raised to date across platforms we have engaged; concentrated in two companies, one who has achieved series A of ~10M and one who has ~40 million in series A+B investment rounds. Both are also operating in US markets.


The Players

(estimated  total of 4-8, excl. foreign companies)

The Mexican Market

Urban Addressable Market
Calculated based on 20-25% uptake in B2G market of public schools with internet access and 75-95% uptake in B2B market of private schools, in urban areas in Mexico

6-10 Million Students

Directional Revenue Potential
Based on total addressable market purchasing subscriptions of 60-80 USD (B2B) and 30-40 USD (B2G)

USD 250-500 million




María .

Principal, Rey Meconetzin School
Mexico City

María is the principal of Rey Meconetzin School in Mexico City. She’s focused on integrating technology and teaching into primary education so children have a better learning experience and are prepared for a digital future.

“Interactive methods of teaching let teachers customize lessons to suit the needs of individuals or tailored groups of students and different media formats let teachers gauge if a child is more visual or if they learn better by tactile learning or through audio input.”

María is aware these new methods of learning create tensions. “Children are engaged in an online learning process because it’s dynamic, however many parents are skeptical their children are just ‘playing on computers’.”

To navigate this issue she emphasizes the critical need teachers still play in the classroom to provide in-person guidance and stresses that "students are familiarizing themselves with the digital skills they need for the future, but teacher engagement and relationship building will, and can, never be replaced."

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To catalyze the market, global tech players could use their strengths to...


Build and distribute excellent content. A lot of the content available for children and particularly teenagers does not provide a high quality user experience and/or education.

Help build the evidence for blended learning. Teachers and ministries of education are wary of new forms of learning (particularly gamified content), partly because the evidence isn’t there yet. Tech actors should prioritize sharing data and testing different ways of designing and delivering learning experiences. Ultimately, this is what will let us identify what works.

Support innovators by providing patient capital. We need a strong ecosystem of players creating and adapting content to local school systems, but in most markets innovators can’t find capital that allows them to go after large yearly contracts with school districts/groups.

Invest in better and cheaper connectivity. Delivering rich content that appeals to children and youth requires a lot of data.

Collaborate with innovators by opening delivery channels. Innovators can scale faster if they can focus on what they do best: developing and adapting content and building out their client-base. Allowing quality content on to existing delivery channels (e.g. Learning Management Systems) could be a “win-win” which accelerates sector growth and improves user experience.



To unlock demand, local innovators need to develop products that...


Encourage critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication alongside problem solving. Local innovators should build in experiences and activities that encourage students to work individually and in teams to solve problems, allowing students to understand there are multiple ways to get to similar outcomes.

Allow teachers to deliver dynamic in-person content. Local innovators should seek to bolster educators’ in-person ability to engage with students.

Are tailored to local languages, context, and culture. Local innovators have a unique role to play in filling critical gaps due to language barriers. Building specific contextual knowledge in is another exciting area local innovators could shine.

Short timelines: Prototype and iterate to figure out what’s working. Local innovators will need to work with students and teachers to build compelling content that meets educational standards.

Longer timelines: Build measurement and evaluation methods into core functionality so a student’s progress can easily be tracked and shared.



To realize the potential of every child, UNICEF could...


Advise decision makers on integration of tech in to the classroom. In the cases where we have good evidence for the impact of digital learning, we can champion its role in the classroom with decision-makers in Government and in the classroom.

Help open doors for digital learning innovators by convening Government and funders in potential early adopter countries to jointly explore how tech players can better integrate in to the educational system.

Help identify how digital learning has the most impact. UNICEF has a network of educationalists across school systems in different contexts and countries around the world, as well as a global network of youth who can (via the U-Report tool) help crowdsource and prototype ideas, and identify what’s compelling. Where tech players are open to sharing data and findings, UNICEF can collaborate on testing and evaluating new approaches in classrooms.

Establish a common measurement framework to align the sector around a common set of learning objectives. We do not have a good way to measure skills like communication and critical thinking; a common framework can help innovators work toward shared objectives.