Southeast Asia is a region that is known for placing importance on education, with parents often enrolling their children in additional after-school tuition sessions to enhance their academic knowledge.
The region is home to 700 million people and 25.7% of the population falls under the school-going age group.
However, due to COVID-19, many educational institutions were forced to adapt and utilize education technology (edtech) to conduct virtual classes for students. Edtech in Southeast Asia utilizes tools such as mobile applications, websites, online quizzes, streaming videos and online tutorials to provide Southeast Asian students with the opportunity to continue studying no matter the circumstance or location.
The Problem of Gaining Access to Quality Education
In rural parts of Southeast Asia (SEA), the lack of development and scarcity of trained teachers result in the problem of children not getting the education they deserve. Teachers are underpaid and classes have high student to teacher ratios, further exacerbating the quality of education that students receive. As a result, public schools are underfunded and poorly-run. Those with the financial ability mostly choose to invest in private education for their children (either in the form of additional tuition or private schooling), however others who do not have the means are forced to study within the existing system, leading to a widening gap in educational inequity.
However, with edtech, not only are many of the physical obstacles (such as distance and lack of school facilities) mitigated but also, edtech lowers the cost and potentially increases the accessibility of quality education for students who have an internet connection.
EdTech in Southeast Asia as the Solution
SEA has high internet penetration rates, and in 2019 alone, 97 million handsets were purchased in SEA, making the region fertile ground for the expansion and adoption of edtech. In addition, over the last five years, Southeast Asia managed to raise $480 million in venture capital funds for edtech startup investments.
Today, there are many edtech startups in SEA such as Topica, (Vietnam), Taamkru (Thailand), Ruangguru (Indonesia) and Classruum (Malaysia) that are hoping to breach the educational gap and increase the quality of education. In particular, Topica, a Hanoi-based edtech startup aims to increase the talent pool by equipping young adults with the skills they need to thrive in a fast-paced working environment in the digital age. Topica has more than 3,000 e-learning courses, in topics such as social media marketing and computer programming, and has trained more than 6,000 students thus far.
Clearly, edtech in Southeast Asia is a burgeoning industry that promotes educational inclusion for many in need. Especially during COVID-19 where many schools have yet to reopen for fears of further spreading the virus, edtech is useful for providing millions of children in SEA with the opportunity to learn during national lockdowns.
– Mariyah Lia