Every year, The Singapore Women’s Weekly gives prominence to 18 distinguished and powerful women who are successful in their own right as part of the Great Women Of Our Time awards. Meet 2020’s Public Service & Education Nominee, Alicia Cheong, the co-founder of Geniebook.
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Meet Alicia Cheong – Great Women Of Our Time 2020 Public Service & Education Nominee
Alicia’s experience in the education and learning industry when she started giving tuition in university. Back then, she was interested in a variation of advanced learning techniques and from there she did a lot of research and conducted courses for students. After graduation, she still felt passionate in continuing down this path and so she started a learning centre with her business partner. At the time, it was called Beautyful Minds.
“We actually integrated quite a lot of special learning techniques to regular tuition classes to help students. So that is how I got into the learning industry. After a few years of teaching on our own, we realised that there are some areas where we definitely can help a student to do better.”
In her years as a tutor, Alicia quickly noticed a gap in the education sector where her students struggled to grasp concepts despite attempting countless rounds of worksheets. This was where Geniebook came in. “My business partner and I created a platform called Geniebook and the platform uses AI to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses for a particular concept. From there we customise questions based on their needs to help them improve on their examinations.”
The 36 year old entrepreneur believes that the future will be more AI-assisted, especially when it comes to education. “AI can really help teachers a lot in terms of personalising learning points. Especially for a large class of 40 and it does help to reduce a lot of admin work for the teacher. Like marking, offering recommendations. It allows teachers to really focus on what they do best, which is teaching and focusing their time on each student.”
As someone who embraces challenges, Alicia believes that every obstacle or unprecedented change is a chance for her to grow as a person. “I am not afraid of change so whenever something new comes about, I am willing to try. I am someone who is very keen about self-improvement, so this mentality really translates from my personal life to my professional life.”
Through Geniebook, she hopes to make education accessible to all students, regardless of their progress and socioeconomic status, and make learning more enjoyable. “When I was giving tuition in university, I realised that I have a lot of passion for education, and my business partner and I were also deeply inspired by Mother Teresa.”
There is so much pressure on students in Singapore to excel in school. Comparison is a common instinct when it comes to students in Singapore, and Alicia shares that a lot of them feel the need to benchmark their own progress against others. Either from the pressures of their teachers at school or from family. It’s an instinct that Alicia and her business partner want to challenge, “There is no need for them to benchmark against others, they should be better each day because of their own personal improvement. There is no need to compare.”
“We need an education system where every single student has a chance to improve no matter what their current academic standing. I do not feel that they should benchmark themselves against others. This is the same advice that I wish I could have given to my past self. In the past, I always compare myself with others but I’ve come to learn, after all these years, that you just have to be better today, than you were yesterday. You don’t need to determine whether you’re good or bad because of what others are doing. Just focus on yourself personally.”
The Great Women Of Our Time Awards 2020 is brought to you by the presenter, Lancôme.