Education Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean

A joint report with IDB Group maps the innovations and impact of EdTech in the LAC region, identifying key challenges and opportunities for greater impact.

Education Intelligence Unit

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April 20, 2022

HolonIQ and the IDB Group recently completed a report on EdTech in the LAC region, drawing on a powerful combination of expert interviews, stakeholder surveys, public research, and proprietary data from HolonIQ’s Impact Intelligence Platform.

The key findings and recommendations in this report aim to provide policy-makers, education leaders, EdTech entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders with information and inspiration to support EdTech initiatives, and have a materially positive impact on education outcomes in the region.

📄 Download the report in English or Spanish.
▶️ Watch the webinar on demand.

From 'learning to earning'. LAC has just under half a billion people demanding innovation in literacy, numeracy and the acquisition of 21st-century skills and knowledge.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is home to over 180+ million students across 33 countries in formal primary, secondary and tertiary education. Another 300+ million workers and job seekers are looking to re-skill and up-skill in a highly competitive regional economy.

A decade of dedicated focus in LAC EdTech is rising to the fore with the sector expanding dramatically in the past 12 months and demonstrating a clear ability to scale and internationalize. The ecosystem has grown to more than 1,500 EdTech companies creating over 4,500 jobs and attracting $1B in investment over the last 10 years in 500 fundraising rounds.

This is just the beginning. The journey will be hard but brings an unprecedented opportunity for government, institutions and investors to power and participate in the social and economic growth these companies will help generate for the region.

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Almost $500M of EdTech Venture Capital was invested in 2021, representing over 6x the average prior five years. Both global and regional investors in LAC can now see the massive opportunity that EdTech represents.

Workforce is the leading category for investment in LAC EdTech, which is both consistent with global trends and indicative of the region’s well documented skills gap. Employers are embracing education technology and see clear links with productivity, up-skilling, re-skilling and supporting a post-COVID working environment.

There is very little funding for EdTech in the Pre-K segment compared to other sectors and other regions of the world, which is an important area to support parents for early childhood development. K12 is the next largest and the fastest-growing sector in LAC, likely driven by the impact of COVID on in-person learning, however investment in EdTech in K12 is not consistent across geographies and is particularly difficult for those countries or regions with lower internet connectivity. There has been strong growth in Higher Education funding in 2021, reflecting COVID-driven attitudes by Universities to find new ways of supporting learners digitally for hybrid campus-based programs and remote and online learning.

LAC is building momentum and scaling into a new and exciting chapter in education innovation and technology.

Education innovation is coming from across the entire region with some countries building strong local ecosystems and momentum in the form of talent, capital, regulatory innovation.

🇧🇷 Brazil’s ecosystem is the largest of the region with nearly two thirds of the startups and attracting just over half of the funding over the last decade. 🇵🇪 Peru and 🇦🇷 Argentina are standout ecosystems that have attracted more funding than their share of the region’s startups. 🇲🇽 Mexico, 🇨🇱 Chile and 🇨🇴 Colombia each have strong ecosystems, with Chile a standout in terms of the number of startups compared with its population size. Countries such as 🇬🇹 Guatemala and 🇺🇾 Uruguay have small ecosystems which are important foundations to build context-relevant solutions. There is greater opportunity to collaborate and share initiatives, ideas and experiences between EdTech across different countries in the region.

Stakeholders in the region revealed a young and dynamic range of markets looking for support to consolidate recent gains and build further capacity and funding to take the ecosystem to the next level.

Education Technology has the potential to be a powerful engine for transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean, but the size of the challenge is formidable.

The region faces the worst socio-economic crisis in more than a century, is one of the lowest-performing education systems globally and has a chronic skills gap. New solutions, new approaches and new thinking is needed now more than ever. Stakeholders from across the region, including public and private education leaders, entrepreneurs and investors identified five thematics that would contribute to improving and accelerating education technology for the region, in order to have a materially positive impact on education outcomes.

Learner Centered. Focusing on what learners need and designing learning experiences and education programs around those needs is critical to both engagement and outcomes.

System Collaboration. Education systems are deeply interconnected in the social, cultural and economic fabric of nations. Changes to ways of operating will require all players, from government, to technology, teachers, parents, companies and institutions to work together in order to make sustained material change in the education systems for better access and outcomes.

Data Informed. It is imperative that data informs decisions all along the way with respect to initiatives related to learning and that key stakeholders are involved in those decisions. Harmonisation of key economic, labor, classroom and learner measures will assist in new findings.

Attract Investment & Promote Partnerships. Governments globally are pursuing public-private partnerships and working with technology companies and investors to assist in the rapid acceleration of education.

Build Capacity. Core to any type of digital transformation is having the capacity – both people and infrastructure – to design and effectively deliver digitally.

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Download the companion report. Higher Education Digital Transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean

HolonIQ recently completed a study with almost 100 institutions across 14 countries in the LAC region, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank and IDB Lab. The report serves as a ‘temperature check’ for digital transformation in higher education in the region, including the key challenges, capabilities, approaches and needs.

Read a summary or download the full report in Spanish or English.

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