Track Session 1.2 Bridging the education divide
Track Session 1.2
Bridging the education divide
- Veronica COLONDAM Founder and Chief Executive Officer, YCAB Foundation
- Sundar MAHALINGAM President (Strategy), HCL Corporation and Shiv Nadar Foundation
- Kerry LEE Head of the Department of Early Childhood Education, The Education University of Hong Kong
The discussions on bridging the education divide were kick-started with the heads of YCAB and Shiv Nadar Foundations sharing how they are innovatively tackling barriers to education in their respective developing country context.
Ms Veronica Colondam, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of YCAB Foundation, highlighted the organisation’s mission to bring love and equality to Indonesia by addressing economic empowerment and education simultaneously. YCAB empowers women by providing them with loans, contingent upon their children’s education. By assisting mothers in obtaining loans, YCAB aims to make a positive impact on both education and economic opportunities. Mr Sundar Mahalingam, President (Strategy) of HCL Corporation and Shiv Nadar Foundation, shared how his foundation’s programme, “Project Shiksha”, enhances the learning experience for children in government schools in rural India. This initiative utilises audio-visual interactive methods and has already reached 200,000 children, engaging families and communities to drive better educational outcomes.
Prof Kerry Lee, Head of the Department of Early Childhood Education at The Education University of Hong Kong, raised questions about the challenges involved in such initiatives. Ms Colondam elaborated on the financial aspects, emphasising that going to school isn’t free, considering expenses like transportation and meals. Mr Mahalingam highlighted that despite challenges such as absenteeism, audio-visual interactive interventions and adapting curriculum have yielded promising results, with government schools adopting these methods.
The discussion also delved into leveraging technology for education. Ms Colondam explained YCAB’s shift towards online platforms, gamification, and chatbot-based systems. They have introduced coding programmes, which, with just 4-6 months of training, provide graduates with salaries three to four times the minimum wage. Mr Mahalingam emphasised the need for real teaching aids and periodic testing to maintain student engagement and pride in learning. The panel concurred that fostering a conducive classroom environment, social-emotional development, and enhancing self-worth are vital in education.
In response to a question on philanthropy’s role, Ms Colondam stressed the need to systemise giving and encouraged investments in coding schools. Mr Mahalingam emphasised philanthropy’s role in bringing skill sets to the education challenge, facilitating the adoption of successful initiatives by governments to scale their impact. The audience raised queries about the effectiveness of digital learning solutions, the transferability of educational programmes across diverse cultural contexts, and the need for structural changes to ensure equal access to education. The panel acknowledged the importance of combining digital and physical learning, considering cultural differences, and involving communities for sustainable improvements.