Pearson’s education fund invests in e-learning startup Zaya Labs

Mumbai-based Zaya Learning Pvt Ltd, which operates under the brand name Zaya Labs, has received an undisclosed amount in funding from Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), an education fund run by UK-based education company Pearson Plc, for a minority stake in the company. The company will use the capital for product development.

Founded in 2010 by Neil D’Souza, an alumnus of North Carolina State University, and Soma Vajpayee, an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, Zaya has developed a blend of online and face-to-face teaching model for learning in schools.

Unlike traditional classroom settings, where a teacher delivers core content to students, Zaya 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.

Zaya has packaged its solution in a LabKit, which includes all the components required to set up a 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 also provides additional assessment services and intensive training in schools on how to use 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’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 four years.

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with PALF due to its 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,” said D’Souza.

“At Pearson India, 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,” said Deepak Mehrotra, managing director, Pearson India.

Launched in July 2012, PALF makes minority equity investments in for-profit companies operating in the affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund aims to improve access to quality education for the poorest families in the world.

Zaya marks PALF’s fifth investment in India and its first in an education technology company in the country. Last November, PALF, along with US-based investor Village Capital, invested a total of $150,000 in Experifun Learning Solutions Pvt Ltd, which designs next generation science learning aids, and Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates low-income pre-schools.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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