Every year, we scope out 18 women who are driven by a desire to bring positive change and have achieved success in their chosen field as part of the Great Women Of Our Time awards. Meet 2019’s Public Service & Education nominee, Janine Teo, Founder & CEO, Solve Education!:
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Meet Janine Teo – Great Women Of Our Time 2019 Public Service & Education Nominee
An advocate for making education to accessible to everyone regardless of status, Janine started Solve Education! with the hope that she could make an impact on the fortunes of the next generation.
“One out of five of our next generation face barriers to education linked to poverty, diversity politics, gender, disability, armed conflict and displacement,” she laments.
“Poor access to quality education entrenches cycles of inequality by preventing disadvantaged youth from attaining the skills to change their economic situation.”
The 37-year-old is a firm believer that education is the key to solve many challenges we face in the world today. But she found it tough to find a way to give everyone equal access to quality education.
This changed during a work trip abroad to nearby Indonesia.
“I was going through a slum area in Jakarta one day and saw this mother trying to operate two smartphones while babysitting her child. I found out that by 2020, 70 per cent of the world will have a basic smartphone and intermittent internet connectivity,” she explains.
“There are 262 million children and youth who do not go to school today and it occurred to me that if I could figure out how to educate kids through the use of a smartphone, then I’d be able to break this cycle of inequality.”
Janine found her radical idea by utilising technology and gaming to tackle the problem of unequal access to education.
Together, her team developed Dawn Of Civilization, a mobile learning platform that enables people across different ages to learn on the go for free.
As of November 2018, the game has more than 10,000 users from across the world including India, Myanmar and Indonesia.
“I love what I do because I find my work very purposeful. On top of that, I have amazing teammates who are crazy passionate about education, and bringing quality education to everyone,” she tells us.
“They are committed to helping children, and youth around the world receive quality and effective education, using innovative education technology such as gamification and artificial intelligence to achieve quality education for all. With a mission to build an open platform that provides everyone access to effective education, their driving passion is to close the global education gap, one child at a time.”
Part of what drives Janine herself to pursue her goals in the education-tech space has to do with what her mentor once told her – that she should find out her purpose in life and fulfill it. Despite this, she does want to remind women that entrepreneurship is not an easy endeavour.
“Entrepreneurship, especially in the social space, can be a tough and lonely journey. Take your time to carefully consider if this is the path you want to take. Be sure to surround yourself with a strong support system of positive people, because you are going to need it,” advises Janine.
“And lastly, make sure you prepare your family for the entrepreneurial path. Entrepreneurship can take up a lot of your time and energy, which might turn into a stressful situation for you and your family. You will need the support and trust of your family to succeed, so engaging them early in the process is crucial.”
Photos: Vee Chin & Tan Wei Te
Fashion Direction: Aaron Kok
Styling Assistants: Juliet Suen & An Lyn Chee
Hair: Jason Wong/Salon Nu, Grego & Ash Loi/Sonder Salon
Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, Hongling Lim, Rina Sim, Wee Ming & Jyue Huey (for Shann Sok)
Location: 89NR, The Working Capitol, Botanico at The Garage & The Summerhouse
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