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Mathika: An Israeli Educational Web-Application in Humanitarian Settings

For the last post of the series featuring inspiring technologies related to Humanitarian Innovation, we spoke to Eyal Dessou Tzafrir, founder and CEO at Mathika.

Mathika is an EdTech startup developing a web-based and mobile educational application to teach Mathematics. Many schools in Israel, including in Arab villages, are using Mathika and during the coronavirus pandemic, many children have started using the application from home.

Mathika is one of the technologies selected for our Pears Program- IsraAID pilot fund, whose mission is introducing and testing promising Israeli technologies with the potential to make a positive impact in the humanitarian field. IsraAID is about to field-test Mathika in its education programs in refugee settings in Greece and Colombia.

Mathika in use in a school of South Tel Aviv, which counts many refugees from South Sudan and Eritrea.

What is Mathika's story?

The roots of Mathika go back to Eyal's childhood. Eyal had difficulties with math and teachers immediately stigmatized him as 'stupid'. As Eyal got older he realized the toll that it took on him: he doubted his abilities, even his ability to go to university. Eyal teamed up with his child's math teacher Yiftach to develop innovative ways to help children struggling with math, just like Eyal.

What challenge you are tackling through your work?

Educate facilitators on a new approach to teach math. A real change needs to happen in conventional thinking about how students learn, how students can move forward on their own and at their own pace.

What is special/unique about your approach?

With Mathika, children from 5 to 13 years old can learn Math by themselves by using video clips, games, and tools. The main emphasis is the ability to learn math without a written language, without the teacher’s supervision and putting the realms of the learning in the learners' hands. As a result, it is teaching children to take responsibility for their learning and for their life.

You are about to pilot your technology with IsraAID. What is your motivation to enter the humanitarian field?

We would like to be the go-to tool for children who don't have access to regular education and be the platform that helps them feel fully part of society all over the world. By working with the Pears Program and IsraAID, we are learning about this field, about what we need to take into account in those specific settings so that we will be able to deploy the platform in other countries. In addition, through our pilot, we will be able to get evidence on impact.

Mathika’s key messages for World Refugee Week::

  • Every child needs to have proper access to education. Every child has the right to move up in the world and be able to grow physically, emotionally, and mentally.

  • Children see the world without limitations; and even if reality is not such, by giving kids the right tools, they can thrive and succeed.

About Pears Program - IsraAID Pilot Fund

The Pears Program - IsraAID Pilot Fund was created to improve WASH and

Education service delivery in communities affected by humanitarian crisis through field testing Israeli technologies, toward their long-term, sustainable deployment..

Amid the increasing frequency and intensifying consequences of humanitarian crises, there is still a need for solutions to support recovery and rehabilitation. Israel is already a world leader in relevant technological areas; however, in order to be effective, technological development must be rooted in the specific needs of humanitarian contexts and introduced in an ethical, impactful, and locally-driven manner.

Over the past decade, a range of Israeli start-ups have emerged targeting humanitarian needs. There is an increasingly well-developed ecosystem in Israel for accelerating start-ups and funding prototype development. However, once a working prototype exists, it can take 1-2 years for start-ups to find field partners and funding for pilots; a necessary pre-requisite for commercialization.

Unlike technologies targeting developed country needs, start-ups targeting development/humanitarian needs cannot successfully launch product sales without impact evidence from rigorous field pilots. The absence of an Israeli pilot fund presents a significant barrier to growing this humanitarian innovation ecosystem. This project provides this essential link in the prototype-to-market innovation value chain.

Mathika is one of the companies selected to pilot their technology with IsraAID. Stay tuned to see how Mathika's pilot and the other pilots are going..

IsraAID is an Israel-based international non-governmental organisation that works to support people affected by humanitarian crisis around the world by partnering with local communities to provide urgent aid, assist recovery, and reduce the risk of future disasters. Since its inception in 2001, IsraAID has worked in emergency and long-term development settings in more than 50 countries.


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