SDGs 4 – Quality Education English education for all – Cambodia- Asia Series

Written by: Alberto Cremonesi, Board of Directors, Impact Hub. Few weeks ago, we sat with Sovan Srun, CEO and co-founder of Edemy, a tech education startup with the mission to make education accessible for all Cambodians.

AC: Sovan, tell us more about Edemy

SS: Edemy is an edtech startup focusing on equalizing access to quality learning for Cambodian youth. Currently we work on 3 main initiatives: blended online English education in rural communities, learning management systems for universities and we just launched a new mobile application, Tesdopi, a STEM mastery learning app for high school students. 

AC: How did you come up with these ideas? What is the problem you are addressing?

SS: As a student myself  I could see lots of opportunities to provide better quality education to rural areas. I could see the potential and talent of my peers, bright talented people who had the commitment to study further but that – due to their economic conditions – were automatically excluded from this opportunity.

AC: You mentioned blended learning – can you tell me a little bit more about it?

SS: Sure. So we wanted to design a product for the most constrained environment. In rural areas in Cambodia, it is often difficult to get access to a constant supply of power, internet in unreliable and expensive, quality teachers are not to be found anywhere… so we came up with a solution, a Raspberry Pi connected to low-cost tablets on which we load our own curriculum. We then go to rural areas where we set up learning centres – usually making good use of an existing facility – and where youth can access the tablets.  Because the Raspberry Pi works as a server, no continuous access to the internet is required. We then identify local teachers with potential, share with them our content and activities, and ask them to organize weekly group learning with the students to make the language real.

AC: It all sounds extremely seamless. What are the challenges?

SS: Well, mainly it has  to do with human resources. It is still difficult to find the right talent in the country, we are basically looking for expert educators with a deep understanding of technology… we are a team of educators first, technology is a tool we use. When it comes to our software engineers, we ask them to spend lots of time with the customers, with the teachers, in communities  and really to understand how education works. The other challenge is to find talented people in local communities….

AC: How do you know you are achieving results? How do you measure impact?

SS: Well, we collect lots of learning data. We know how students are progressing against certain metrics, we know what their learning level is and we measure the increment of their knowledge. We also use lots of qualitative data, we speak to students in their communities, we look for leaps in confidence.

AC: A last question. How do you see technology in relation to the social sector?

SS: Tech has allowed for incredible advancements in the social sector. It is important to think of it as part of the solution rather than the solution per se. Understanding the root causes of a problem, applying empathy to a solution, these things remain central… what tech can do is certainly help with scale and well… make life a little easier!

About the author:

Alberto is a member of the Board of Directors of Impact Hub Global Network and the founder of Impact Hub Phnom Penh. His focus is on the field of social entrepreneurship and social innovation, non-for-profit management and corporate non-market strategies. He is particularly interested in understanding the processes through which entrepreneurs construct new models and markets, and the growth and scaling up processes of new ventures in order to maximize economic and social impact. Alberto has been living and working in Asia for over 15 years. 

Alberto holds an executive MBA from IE Business School. In life, he continues his quest to find the perfect espresso coffee outside of Italy.


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