Educational systems in Southeast Asia tend to favor the wealthy, thus shutting out the poorer economic strata in society. This phenomenon is true both in terms of access, as well as in quality. The issue has historically perpetuated an economic class system where the educated have access to knowledge-related work, while the under-educated remain trapped in socioeconomic cul-de-sacs involving underemployment and low-wage jobs. As a result, most families with low incomes direct the majority of their family’s income towards food and shelter, rather than to their children’s education, thus perpetuating the poverty cycle.
Even if a child has access to K-12 school education, colleges are often located in cities that are far, increasing the costs of leaving home and living in the city. In many of these countries, depending on the economic stratum, families also depend on their teenage children to augment the family's income or help with the family’s farming. Some of the largest impediments to education are the existing attitudes and cultural norms toward education, which sap entire generations of children of motivation to study further, even if the means were made available.
An affordable, localized, and practical education system may be critical in allowing rural children to break out from the poverty cycle and gain economic mobility. The current model of education, both at the K-12 and college levels, require a large amount of capital and interventions using normative systems, unless they are supported by massive policy changes. However, an education system that requires vastly less capital per student can be distributed in nature, has a natural business model to maintain it’s quality and it’s propagation, and can be rolled out rapidly at scale.
Part of the project’s goals was to strike partnerships with agencies who are able to adopt and scale new ideas. ChangeLabs worked with the VietSeed Foundation, an organization working in this sector, which has a business model that involves matching sponsors to students.
A team worked on designing new concepts, strategies, tangible interventions, and a roadmap to deliver lasting and increasing value at a large scale. This was accomplished simultaneously on three domains: social, economic and environmental. The team proposed an actionable “paradigm,” and developed a platform creating the affordances for a scaled intervention, driving transformations to the larger societal and system behavior.