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Persona Education shortlisted for UNICEF Venture Fund

Press Release
Sharjah, UAE, 14th December 2023

Persona Education has today been shortlisted for its proposal to develop a social-emotional skills learning app benefiting lower socio-economic status and refugee learners in the Middle East. The UNICEF Venture Fund makes early stage investments in technologies for children in UNICEF programme countries, collaborating with innovators to build and test new solutions.

 

UNICEF Office of Innovation + Persona Education

Image: Persona Education FEZ

 

Persona Education has been shortlisted for its proposal to develop a social-emotional skills learning app targeting lower socio-economic status and refugee learners in the Middle East.

The UNICEF Venture Fund collaborates with innovators to build and test new solutions at the pace required to keep up with the rapidly evolving challenges facing children. It makes early stage investments in technologies for children developed by companies in UNICEF programme countries. By providing flexible funding to early-stage innovators, it allows UNICEF to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source technology solutions that show potential to positively impact the lives of vulnerable children.

Social-emotional skills at age 15 are 30% lower than age 10 (OECD). The decline is steeper for girls and socio-economically disadvantaged students. This has a negative impact on young people’s success in school and employment. Research by UNICEF, World Bank, GAGE and others shows that most students from the lowest socio-economic status and refugee groups do not have access to a laptop/desktop for schoolwork, but they are likely to have access to a smartphone.

A pilot in government schools conducted by Persona Education with the Jordan Ministry of Education during Feb-May 2023 produced encouraging results. 465 students in Grades 8-12 took part, at nine Girls schools, nine Boys schools and two Special Educational Needs schools. The results were exceptional: 93% module completion; average 11 modules per student started, 10.2 completed; 98% of students reported they learnt how to improve the targeted life skills.

This shortlisting by UNICEF recognises the potential of the online Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) platform Persona Life Skills to benefit disadvantaged and refugee youths in Jordan, the wider MENA region and beyond. Persona Life Skills is the only SEL platform built around personality insights designed for young people. The software incorporates intellectual property developed with funding from highly sought-after UK government R&D grants.

Over 500 schools in 44 countries have registered to use the Persona Life Skills platform with 139,000 students, the geographies showing most interest being the UK, US, Middle East and India. It is being taken to market by an experienced team with a strong >20 year track record, supported by a high quality advisory panel.

Pete Read, CEO & Co-founder of Persona Education, said, “We are very grateful to be shortlisted for a UNICEF Venture Fund grant. One of the biggest challenges in MENA, which has a young population including millions of refugees, is low wellbeing and lack of social-emotional skills, or life skills. This constrains their employability and prospects in life. It also threatens the security of the region because as today's teenagers get older there will be a negative cascade into society as a whole. Persona Life Skills is already helping thousands of young people around the world to develop their life skills, and we want to extend that support into some of the neediest populations, initially in Jordan. This recognition from UNICEF is a very welcome validation.”

To find out more about the UNICEF Venture Fund, visit the programme website.

ENDS

 

About Persona Education Ltd

Persona Education is a UK and UAE based edtech start-up developing life skills solutions for secondary students and educational institutions. Its web and mobile online learning platforms are built around a scientifically proven personality insights framework, that is social, practical and memorable. For further information contact info@persona-life.com or +44 (0)117 313 2897.

About Persona Life Skills

Persona Life Skills is an online Social-Emotional Learning platform for schools and colleges that uses personality insights to help teenagers navigate their life journey. The scaffolded, age appropriate curriculum guides students in building 22 life skills that map to GL PASS, IB Learner Profile, UNICEF, Ofsted, ISI, Skills Builder, Gatsby benchmarks and more. For further information contact info@persona-life.com or +44 (0)117 313 2897.

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