Early childhood education in urban slums chosen by Bill Clinton as theme of $1m Hult Prize

Hundreds of students from more than 150 countries are looking for innovative ways to bring education to very young children living in urban slums.

Teams from more than 600 universities will compete for the 2015 Hult Prize – with the winner getting $1million seed capital for an innovative start-up company and resources to build the idea worldwide.

The theme of Early Childhood Education in the Urban Slum has been chosen by former United States President Bill Clinton. The start-ups will seek to reimagine education, in order to reach 10 million children up to the age of six over the next five years.

More than 110 million children under six living in slums do not get quality education to prepare them for primary school. The Hult Prize says: “Global achievement gaps of five and six-year-olds can be eliminated through an intensive two-year early childhood program targeted at one to three-year-olds.” 

In the prize’s call to action, President Clinton said children failing to reach their potential in cognitive development will “not only have an effect on their life but also their families, communities and nations in which they live”. He added: “In order to stem this crisis and alleviate the burden on those working to survive on just a few dollars a day, we must offer smart solutions that will drive down cost, motivate parents and create awareness on the importance of early childhood education.”

President Clinton has supported the Hult Prize since it was launched in 2009. He has described it as, “one of the top five ideas that are changing the world”. The prize runs regional competitions in five cities around the world and online. 

The Hult Prize has launched some of the most innovative start-ups in the social enterprise sector – including India’s largest loyalty and rewards programme targeting the urban poor (m.Paani), the largest solar light distributor in Africa (SunnyMoney) and the fastest growing company in the insect agriculture sector (Aspire Food Group).

The Hult Prize Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to launching the world’s next wave of social entrepreneurs. It encourages bright business minds to compete in teams to solve the biggest challenges with innovative ideas for sustainable start-ups.