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Naspers invests $540m in education app

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Naspers has led a $540-million investment in BYJU’S, the creator of the most popular school learning app in India. A significant portion is also being contributed by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

Naspers says the investment will drive the BYJU’S team to further innovate, explore and set new benchmarks for tech-enabled learning products. The company has plans for international market expansion and will make investments in technology that will further personalise learning for students. BYJU’S also represents Naspers’ investment in India across multiple sectors and entrepreneurs in this high-growth market.

Launched in 2015, BYJU’S Learning App is the leader in offering personalised learning programmes for school students in grades 4 to 12 in India. Delivering world-class learning experiences, the app merges videos, interactives, and teachers to bring concepts to life. It also adapts to the learning style of every student, adjusting to the pace and style of their learning. More than 30 million students have used the BYJU’S Learning App, and it has amassed over 2 million cumulative annual paid subscriptions, with an average engagement of 64 minutes per student daily.

“This partnership will strengthen our ability to deliver on our vision to build the world’s largest education company,” said Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO of BYJU’S. “India has the largest population attending primary school in the world and Indian households are willing to invest a lot in their children’s education, because a good education is viewed as the best path to success. I believe the importance of quality education amongst the entire population in India fuelled our ability to create an engaging and high-impact learning app.

“While near-term profitability is important for us, as a company our main focus continues to be on long-term sustainable growth. The education technology (edtech) industry is undergoing massive shifts; modern students want to learn through engaging and interactive methods. We are pioneering ‘better learning for tomorrow’ with technology as an enabler and we have been working towards making students active learners. It is only through active learning that we can prepare our youth for jobs of tomorrow.”

Russell Dreisenstock, head of International Investments at Naspers Ventures, who will be joining BYJU’S Board of Directors said: “Naspers partners with high-potential companies that are tackling big societal needs like education, which represents a significant sector ripe for disruption across the globe.

“With the largest school-age population in the world and a growing middle-class with the willingness to commit significant resources towards quality education for their children, BYJU’S is perfectly positioned to provide an effective supplemental education solution for students across India.  We partnered with BYJU’S because we believe the company’s success in India will translate across borders in any country where students are looking for an innovative and engaging form of education beyond the classroom.”

In addition to BYJU’S, Naspers has built a significant edtech portfolio around the world. It includes Udemy, a leading global marketplace for learning and instruction; Brainly, the world’s largest social learning community; Codecademy, an online interactive platform to learn to code; and SoloLearn, a mobile-first community learning platform where students can learn, create, and share programming content.

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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