Pearson invests in an education technology company to advance learning through affordable private schools

Global learning leader focuses on increasing access to quality affordable education in India.

New Delhi, May 20, 2014: Pearson, the World’s leading learning company, has announced a minority equity investment in Zaya Labs (www.zaya.in), the school service provider delivering high-quality blended learning experiences for schools serving students from low income families.

The investment was brokered by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF)and it marks the fifth PALF investment and its first in an education technology company in India. The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund was set up in July 2012 to support early-stage high-quality education enterprises serving weaker socio-economic groups. The PALF’s investment in Zaya Labs will be utilized for continuous product development while continuing to demonstrate superior learning outcomes in classrooms.

Katelyn Donnelly, the managing director of PALF, commented,“Zaya Labs has demonstrated an unrivalled commitment to learner-centric product development, incorporating extensive teacher and student feedback into their product iterations. This is critical when working within the affordable segments of the Indian school market, where there are often infrastructure and connectivity challenges. This unerring focus on not just product quality but successful implementation is what differentiates them from other education technology companies in this sector.”

Incorporated in 2010, Zaya Labs has developed an affordable model using a blend of online and face-to-face teaching for better learning in schools. Unlike traditional classroom settings, where a teacher delivers core content to students, Zaya Labs operates a rotational model where students divide their time between content engagement via tablets, instructional time with a teacher and peer-to-peer group work. Students build their own learning pathway and move through content at their own pace, with regular assessments to ensure concept mastery. Time spent with the teacher is used to reinforce concepts and build additional skills, such as problem solving and teamwork.

Mr. Deepak Mehrotra, Managing Director, Pearson India commented, “At Pearson India we are committed to make education affordable, inclusive and accessible to all. We believe public private partnerships and effective use of technology are two milestones that will help achieve scale and quality learning outcomes. Our investment in an education technology institution like Zaya Labs is another step in this direction.”

Zaya Labs has packaged their solution in a LabKit, which includes all the components required to set up a Zaya blended learning lab in low-income school settings. This includes low-cost tablets, a projector, curated digital content and ClassCloud, an adaptive learning platform that can store and deliver digital content in both online and offline environments. Zaya Labs also provides additional assessment services and intensive training in schools on how to effectively utilize its blended learning solution. The company hopes to implement its affordable LabKit solution across low-income government and private schools in India.

In India Zaya Lab’s network includes one owned lab and eight schools using its solution in Maharashtra, as well as seven learning centres spread across the country. Zaya aims to increase its reach to 400 learning centres and 500 schools in next four years.

Neil D’Souza, Founder and Chief executive, Zaya Labs commented, “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Pearson Affordable Learning Fund due to their deep education expertise and focus on driving solutions that improve learning outcomes for students. We believe that Zaya can bridge the educational attainment gap for learners at the bottom of the pyramid and look forward to working with PALF to establish our market presence in India and maximise our impact.”

Earlier in 2013, Pearson launched the ‘Edupreneurs’ programme in India. The scheme, which is a partnership between Pearson’s Affordable Learning Fund and Village Capital, supported the development of the two selected start-ups (Experifun and Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions), that are concerned with serving students at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) in India. These two start-ups received $150,000 of guaranteed capital investment.

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information, visit www.pearson.com

The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund was launched by Pearson in July 2012 with $15 million of capital. Its mandate is to invest in companies that can build quality, scalable education solutions to meet a growing demand for affordable educational services in the developing world.

Learn more at http://www.affordablelearningfund.com.