7/26/17 – The GSSE MBA venture team, Learning Labs, is working to understand business models that would address the lack of quality education in rural areas in Indonesia.
Brightspots in Bali
Our first stop was in Bali where we studied the world-renowned Green School and several urban and rural schools. Specifically, the Green School is operated as a nonprofit that supports local low-income students through a scholarship program and receives its income from international high-paying families. We spent 14 days at the Green School learning about its operations, students, parents, teachers, administrators, and local communities. We were impressed by several social and environmental initiatives developed by the school; one of them was Kembali—a recycling facility where parents, students, and local communities can bring their trash to recycle. Our favorite part of Kembali is how local students receive 6 months of free ESL classes if they bring 5kg of trash to the facility. There are currently 325 local students learning English at the Green School at no cost because of this initiative.
In terms of urban schools, the biggest challenges are the lack of proper teaching tools, underpaid teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and facilities that are in need of improvement—mainly bathrooms and playgrounds. The rural schools face even bigger challenges because of poor infrastructure and limited numbers of teachers and educational resources. Additionally, students have to travel long journeys, many on motorbikes by themselves starting at a very young age, and many families cannot afford transportation costs, school supplies and food during school time. Lastly, many teenagers opt to drop out of school to support their families in the family rice fields or farms.
Designing New Solutions
We learned about human-centered design in class, which helped us understand the needs of our target customers and beneficiaries by putting ourselves in their shoes. It allowed us to be open and connect with participants in our research. We incorporated human-centered design techniques with several interviews and focus groups that we conducted with Green School students, parents, teachers, and administrators, allowing us to better understand the pains and gains of our participants.
During our fieldwork in Bali, we learned about the beauty of the Balinese culture that is deeply rooted in people’s daily life, which influences how they perceive the world around them. We also learned that urban and rural students, parents and teachers understand how their island is currently a massive tourist destination. Most importantly, they understand that if English classes are made accessible for them, their families can have a better future. They welcome tourism but they want to have control over it, to not only be able to profit from it, but also to protect their culture and religion. This is something we would not be able to learn in class. Without immersing ourselves in the communities and culture, we will not be able to truly understand what the young and old generations of Balinese need, in terms of education.