Over the past decade, global investment in edtech has soared to new heights. The urgent need to educate children at home created by COVID-19 lockdowns turbocharged already existing momentum, and analysts now expect edtech expenditure to reach an eye-watering $300 billion globally this year.

But the sudden reliance on edtech during global school closures also painfully exposed some of its current weaknesses. Teachers often found it hard to monitor attendance and assess students’ understanding: one study found that the impact of the pandemic left students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year. A joint report by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank stated that the share of children in lower- and middle-income countries who are living in “learning poverty” (a lack of basic literacy by age 10) was over 50 percent before the pandemic and could rise to up to 70 percent, due to school closures and the relative ineffectiveness of current remote learning models.