Of the nearly 650 million people living in Southeast Asia, 25.7 percent fall within the school-attending age group. Yet, access to quality education remains limited and unevenly distributed across the region, for example, in Vietnam nearly 37 percent of youth at upper-secondary level are out of school. Furthermore, even students who do attend school are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and math with only 78 percent of children completing basic education in the Philippines and 55 percent of Indonesian 15 year-olds considered functionally illiterate. These inequities were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as an estimated over 150 million children were impacted by school closures in the region.
At the same time, Covid-19 dramatically transformed the delivery of education through remote learning and accelerated the demand for edtech capabilities—from e-learning apps to language and digital collaboration tools. In fact, it is estimated that 135 million school children across the region would have lost access to education without home-based learning, preventing significant implications for long-term, downstream effects on development and economic opportunities. Still, the pandemic highlighted the drastic digital divide and varying levels of internet penetration in the region including less than 60 percent internet penetration in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Looking beyond the pandemic, technology presents an opportunity to enhance aspects of the education process and complement the work of educators. This potential has been thrust to the fore over the course of the last year, with students around the world reliant on remote learning amidst prolonged school closures—exposing the digital divide that persists. It has also revealed the enormity of the challenge in using technology at scale to support the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ for whom consistent access to reliable learning technologies remains a far-off aspiration.
To that end, the Octava Social Innovation Challenge is seeking accessible and affordable edtech solutions focused on underserved K-12 learners that utilize evidence-based educational content informed by the science of learning and are aligned with curriculum outcomes. The Challenge seeks solutions that are operating in at least one of Octava Foundation’s target countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and/or Vietnam), and address one or more of the following dimensions:
For more information on the challenges and opportunities for edtech in the Southeast Asia region, download the Challenge White Paper or preview the Executive Summary below.
Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting, transformational impact.
To find out more about Solve, please click here.
Better Purpose works with organisations that want to make a difference to education outcomes all over the world by providing support with strategic planning, operational effectiveness, and the design and delivery of education initiatives. Better Purpose brings insight, expertise and practical delivery experience to important issues in the international education sector and have developed and supported successful educational initiatives all around the world, including in South-East Asia.
To find out more about Better Purpose, please click here.
Founder & Managing Partner,
Sandeep founded Kaizenvest, an education focused asset management firm headquartered in Singapore with offices in Mumbai and Johannesburg. Kaizenvest, starting with a private equity fund in India in 2010, has become the leading private equity and private debt investor in the future of learning and future of work domains in emerging Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.
Prior to founding Kaizenvest, Sandeep was a venture capital investor in Silicon Valley at Outlook Ventures where he led and supported numerous technology and consumer services investments. He has also held operations and consulting roles in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., areas.
Sandeep’s passion is to work closely with entrepreneurs who have a deep sense of purpose and a plan for identifying and solving difficult societal problems through differentiated and sustainable companies. He sits on the boards of companies across the Philippines, Vietnam and India and is a frequent speaker on emerging investment and impact trends globally.
He has an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
This Challenge will be open to anyone from around the world who would like to contribute solutions that leverage edtech in one (or more) of five Southeast Asian countries: Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia. At a minimum, solutions must be:
If you have a relevant solution, we hope you’ll apply!
Solution applications must be written in English. This Challenge considers solutions at various stages of development—from pilot to scale. At a minimum, solutions must have at least a pilot with demonstrated usability in one (or more) of the Octava Challenge target countries: Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia.
The most important thing is that your solution addresses the focus of the Octava Social Innovation Challenge. Through open innovation, this Challenge is looking for a diverse portfolio of solutions across stages of development and teams. We believe that there is no one solution to the world’s most complex challenges—and encourage people of all backgrounds to submit their applications.
The judging panel for this Challenge will be comprised of leaders and experts from across industries. After an initial screening by Solve staff and community reviewers, the judges will score the screened solutions based on the following criteria. All criteria will be given equal weight:
Finalists will be invited to a pitch event to present their solutions in front of distinguished judges. A total pool of $500,000 in prize funding is available for up to 8 selected winners of the Challenge. Each winning solution will receive a minimum of $50,000.
In addition to funding, each Challenge winner will participate in a ten-month tailored support program run by MIT Solve and the Octava Foundation that will include:
Diverse experts sharing their unique perspectives for edtech solutions to scale and deepen their impact
To kickstart the Vlog Series, our Regional Director for Asia, Raman Sidhu, shares her observations on edtech in the region and the types of solutions that the Octava Social Innovation Challenge aims to find and partner with. If your solution aligns with the challenge dimensions, be sure to submit your solution by 15th October!
If you are wondering what makes the Octava Social Innovation Challenge a unique and powerful platform to showcase your solutions, let Sara Monteabaro, Director of Strategic and Partners Programs at MIT Solve, enlighten you on why you should apply!
An estimated 63 out of 100 students in Low-to-Middle-Income countries are experiencing ‘Learning Poverty’ after the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated learning inequalities. Alice Cornish, Director at Better Purpose, highlights some key opportunities in Southeast Asia for EdTech entrepreneurs to alleviate the learning loss faced by underserved learners.