Interview made by Alexandre Malarewicz from Family First. During his worldtour, Alexandre is working on social impact assessment with social entrepreneurs and NGO’s. Passionate about the topic, he is also writing a book about entrepreneurs and changemakers.
Rith, the Founder of Edemy and active Hubber was one of the people he met.
“It was one of my most efficient meeting. Rith speaks fast, his sentences are short and precise and he goes straight to facts. Alike, his project is clear and well thought through.
The challenge: make the learning of English accessible to everyone in Cambodia. This is an ambitious project, based on an innovative technology and adapted to the context of Cambodia. A former English teacher and school manager, Rith knows the issues related to teaching this language in rural areas. Lack of high proficient teachers, high costs of lessons, lack of infrastructures (like Internet and electricity)… He decided to start Edemy which has developed an online solution to tackle these issues.
We were sceptical at this point of the interview: how could an online device solve these problems in regions where, let alone internet, even electricity is not always reliable … ?
Let’s hear the brilliant answer Rith gave us ! He came up with a device – a kind of hard drive – which stocks all the content of the English lessons. This device plugs into a wifi router which transmits a signal reachable by any computer, tablet or cellphone. It is then possible to gain access to the online English classes. This makes it unnecessary to subscribe to an expensive internet connection. The electricity issue can be solved by using a simple solar panel to charge the devices.
One problem remains: how could students, many of whom are among the poorest in Cambodia, afford a tablet or a computer ?Again, Rith has the answer “the software is technologically very simple, no need for a high tech device, a simple $40 tablet is enough !”
And what about the price ? $25 per year per student covers all the fees for a year. For regular classes, students must pay $10 every month, I leave the calculation to you… Theses $25 cover the cost of all devices, but also the rent of a room, electricity, and the salary of a facilitator.
Indeed, when thinking about the pedagogy, Rith knew how hard it is to follow a 100% online class. This demands a lot of self-motivation, independence and rigor, which many of the target rural students lack. Rith developed a hybrid pedagogy with 50% of the time online and 50% of face to face interaction. The content of the lessons is designed to alternate in phases, and the facilitator is there to facilitate interaction (fluency) between students. Accessibility is key, as no high proficient teacher is needed, and a simple room is enough to lauch a program.
For now, Rith as been working on Edemy for 8 months. With his team, Edemy have already opened two classes and they hope to accelerate the development in the coming months. However, his main problem is the lack of funds. Very few local and international investors are interested in start-ups. Therefore Rith has looked towards various sources to tackle this problem.
His advice to us: Don’t hesitate to step forward. Don’t wait until everything is ready to start. No need to plan everything, just start, everything will follow naturally !”
You can visit Edemy’s website here