The Challenge


How might we increase the availability of affordable learning tools & services for students in the developing world? read the brief


Matchbox Learning: Word Bricks/Flashcards

This builds on Smriti’s inspiration about matchboxes having the most pervasive distribution network/deepest market penetration in rural India. As matchboxes have unused but visible print spaces, perhaps this space could be used as an educational opportunity for children & adults. I.E., by printing a simple picture, the local language word, & its Hindi/English equivalent, matchboxes could improve local language/Hindi/English literacy. These matchbox sides can be easily turned into makeshift flashcards as well.
In addition, they could also be used as classroom visual aids for sentence formation & grammar: i.e. build a sentence using your boxes, or put all your "noun" boxes into a pile, or teach the student to your left a "verb" from one of your boxes.

Background (from Wikipedia): The literacy rate of India is ~70%, which, when combined with India’s large population, causes India to have the largest absolute # of illiterate people out of any nation. The official language of India is Hindi, with English as the 2ndary official language (~1 out of 5 Indian adults can speak English).
Who would implement this?
  1. A big company
  2. A local entrepreneur or small organization
  3. A globally-based social entrepreneur
  4. NGOs and Foundations
  5. I would!
  6. I don’t really know
What sort of potential do you think this concept has to be a sustainable business?
Very high potential
As Smriti mentioned, matchboxes are already present in nearly every Indian household, regardless of remoteness or poverty. For households (or for those who just pick up a thrown away matchbox), there is no additional cost. For large matchbox manufacturers, there is minimal additional cost, especially if the printing has to be setup for logos/other imagery anyways. Furthermore, this would provide a way for a matchbox manufacturer to improve its social reputation & gain sales in a commoditized market by providing an additional differentiated benefit for customers.
Distribution & Delivery
Households would automatically receive the education material with the matchboxes they are already using. Schools could have children collect matchboxes to be used as learning aids.
How well do you feel it meets the local needs enterprising schools has identified? (English language, Math, Libraries, Technology, Professional Development)
It fulfills really well on the need its chosen to serve
People will naturally be exposed to the education material when they use matchboxes. Simple Lesson Ideas could also be distributed/demo'ed to teachers.
Local Need. Enterprising Schools has identified key areas of need for Affordable Private Schools. What local learning need(s) does this concept address?
  1. English language learning (speaking, reading, writing)
  2. Math learning
  3. Libraries
  4. Tech literacy
  5. Professional development
  6. Other


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Tiare Rivera

September 28, 2010, 18:04PM
It is indeed a great idea, not only for languages, but also for math operations. Even school kids and teachers can create their own learning material according to the subject area they are studying at that particular time, by using matchboxes already discarded. Maybe you can work on the lesson plans. Congrats!!

Karen Gates

September 24, 2010, 14:39PM
Some ideas, like this wonderfully resourceful one, may be of the nature of "of course we should do this ... without delay ... why wouldn't we?" There's almost zero extra cost. In itself it's not enough to meet the challenge, but it has the advantage of leverage (effects way beyond cost, since there is essentially no cost) and instant feasibility. Plus, it fits into the culture in a way that can involve the population at large. For example, parents can be involved with their children ... the tool is not isolated within classrooms. There are going to be many complementary ideas needed. This one on its own isn't enough, but it's a great idea. Congrats to submitter on great thinking!

smriti mehrotra

September 14, 2010, 06:23AM
an idea like this might not make an instant impact ... but definitely the easiest to implement and a source for generating curiosity and to create an urge to learn more
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