KIES 2018

KIES 2018 Sessions

Day 1
( 1 March 2018 )

This panel will discuss the path that higher education will most likely follow in order to be ready for the millennial generation and beyond. It will debate the risks and rewards of foreseeing radical change and responding to it at private and public institutions across the globe.
For changes in the education market are already gathering pace. For example, traditional universities that take degrees online are seeing a 30-percent yearly increase in revenues, number of colleges offering competency-based education will rise three-fold from 2015-2020, and the number of boot-camp graduates has been doubling every year since 2013.
In addition, providers are now challenging many of the formerly rigid parameters of higher education delivery. Some of the tenets poised to fall include:
  • Synching all programs with a single, university-wide academic calendar
  • Using credit hours to define student cost
  • Basing degree attainment on time in seat
  • Separating education from post-graduation employment

These changes have led to new conversations and the creation of innovative, non-traditional learning models of higher education from providers that include Udacity, Andela, Minerva, Code School, SNHU, and Georgia Tech-AT&T.


Millennials will learn and earn differently from us – the conventional classroom will become less relevant and their world will be an agglomeration of capabilities and attitudes across geographic boundaries. Personalization and ‘individual’ relevance will be their mantra. They will gather their skills and credentials over a lifetime of learning.

Technology will underpin the success of these models, allowing for elements such as personalization, virtualization, and flexibility to be introduced into the learning process. Technology will be an important ingredient in moving away from one-size- fits-all education system.

However, the path to a new education system will not be straightforward. Education has proven highly resistant to change across the centuries. Those who ignore the importance of human intervention in the learning process will do so at their peril.

This panel will discuss the path higher education is most likely to follow to be ready for the millennial generation and beyond. It will debate the rewards and risks of foreseeing radical change and responding to it at private and public institutions across the globe.

Emerging problems and associated solutions:

  • Inertia among policy makers and employers will delay the transition process and add to the uncertainty in the short to medium terms
  • Over-reliance on technology to deliver fundamental changes will lead to several false starts in the process
  • Educators / academics can play a major role in strengthening the foundations for the new models to thrive. Are they ready for it?
  • Infrastructure in emerging markets will drag down the pace of change for a bulk of the global student population
  • Early adopters (among students and their parents) will have to take a leap of faith to migrate from traditional systems, especially in emerging markets where the traditional degree penetration is still low and the degree is seen as a sure path to prosperity

Fundraising is a critical task for every startup founder, a trial by fire that is at once exciting and exasperating. A better understanding of the process, however, can enable founders to avoid Sisyphean frustration and ensure a successful outcome. In this session, we’ll navigate the fundraising maze together, answering key questions such as:

  • What do investors focus on before investing in a business?
  • How can founders maximize their chances of raising their first funding round?
  • When should founders raise funds and where should they get it?
  • How much should founders raise at each step in the process?
  • What should founders keep in mind before seeking follow-on funding?
  • How should founders structure their companies for seed, angel, and venture capital investment?
  • What are best practices for identifying and approaching potential investors?
  • What are the methodologies for determining early stage company valuation?
  • What are best practices for negotiating and documenting investment term sheets and key clauses?

In this session, we’ll take an investor’s perspective and outline the range of advantages associated with education platforms, from greater scale to higher brand awareness. After we’ve established the “why” we’ll dive into the “how” covering the nuts and bolts of building a multinational education platform of pre-K and K-12 schools across Southeast Asia. Topics for examination include:

  • What are the benefits to building an education platform?
  • What is the current demand for fee-paying pre-K and K-12 schools?
  • What platforms are now operating in the region?
  • How well do you know your target customer?
  • Are you providing a differentiated offering to the market?
  • What are the challenges to finding and scaling opportunities?
  • What are some potential bright spots where new entrants can find success?

The demand for new skills is accelerating rapidly due to changes in the job market new opportunities for work-life balance, and greater transactional expectations of millennials. This sequence of events has a strong impact on the expected return on investment (ROI) from education and skilling systems.

For students the “I” in ROI is falling as shifting education models reflect their desire to pay less and spend just enough time to learn the right skill sets. At the same time, the desired “R” is holding steady, implying that skills education must leverage technology, automation, and new business models such as peer-to-peer learning to meet expectations.

The skill evolution cycle is a term that defines the pace at which new jobs are emerging and old ones are becoming obsolete due to obsolescence or automation.


Millennials will learn and earn differently from other generations because their world is an agglomeration of capabilities and attitudes virtually, across geographic boundaries. Thus skilling and education will move from geographical to virtual agglomeration.

Formal institutions for education delivery such as schools and colleges will dis-aggregate along functional, focus, and geographic boundaries and will collaborate with each other across these boundaries. This will result in an education and skilling system that, leverage technology and mimics the learning and earning patterns of virtually connected millennials.

Emerging problems and associated solutions:

  • Governments are not yet working with each other to define global standards for skills and remain focused on regulating education and skills infrastructure but not the outcome of skills education. Most often, funding and support depend on the size of the geographic campus, libraries, laboratories, sports facilities, and other physical elements. While this is important, funding and support should depend on consistent performance against institution-specific skills targets whether or not they are related to academics
  • This can be fixed only if skills development and acquisition become strategic targets for the government. The private sector should be encouraged to bridge the skills innovation gap and should be charged with skills development while governments should focus on developing and implementing education and immigration policies that ensure target skills are identified, acquired, and retained.
  • Skills and employability questions include - How can quality education foster inclusive growth? How can the gap between education and employment be bridged? As jobs and labor markets evolve, how should education providers prepare?
  • In many emerging economies, the quality of higher education leaves much to be desired as; overcrowded classrooms, out-of-date curricula, and poor quality teachers, and infrastructure creates a problem of shortage in the midst of plenty. Out of millions of graduates, only a small percentage is truly employable. The need to close this employability gap is acute as employers fight for this limited pool of talent. Are we simply failing to engage large numbers of people in relevant ways? In essence, the learning cycle of individuals is getting shorter and the need to learn and relearn is increasing rapidly. Jobs are available but quality people are not.
  • Creative business models and technology-enabled solutions are being applied very effectively to address some of these gaps in a scalable fashion.

Day 2
( 2 March 2018 )

Artificial intelligence is the branch of computer science concerned with the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.

Tremendous progress has been made in AI over the past several years, making the leap from science fiction to everyday reality. Today, Siri is our personal assistant. Facebook uses facial recognition to tag our photos. Google Maps helps us navigate. And Elon Musk’s Neuralink may soon connect our brains to the cloud. In short, practically every field has benefited from advances in artificial intelligence. This includes education, where a number of hardware, software and online services have managed to bring changes to classrooms and teaching methods. Still, AI has not benefited education to the same degree as other disciplines and true disruption has yet to arrive.


Over the last decade, applications of artificial intelligence have addressed several challenges of learning, including language processing, reasoning, planning, and cognitive modeling.

  • 1. One-to-one human tutoring has long been considered an effective approach for teaching and learning. AI techniques can simulate one-to-one human tutoring, providing learning that best fits a student’s needs and providing feedback.
  • 2. Another effective approach to learning is collaboration, whether between a few students working closely together or a larger group of students in an online course, and it can foster higher learning outcomes than solitary learning. AI can provide support for collaborative learning
  • 3. Intelligent virtual reality (VR + AI) can enhance educational outcomes by enabling students to interact with aspects of a simulated world and then transfer what they have learned to the real world. Learning to cope with dangerous or unpleasant situations, like bullying, or interacting in complex team trainings such as international peacekeeping, are a few examples of intelligent virtual reality at work.

Emerging problems and associated solutions:

Progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning has been impressive, but there is still much work to be done to advance learning science. While some progress is being made to bring artificial intelligence to the education space these efforts pale in comparison to advancements elsewhere.

  • 1. How can AI be integrated into the current system now to improve learning outcomes for all, from the most advantaged students to those facing steep challenges, and what does this short-term disruption look like? One example might be Summit Public Schools, which mixes personalized eLearning with group projects, leading to nearly 100 percent acceptance into at least one college or university.
  • 2. How will AI and technology impact the education system in the longer-term? For example, will there be a place for schools as we know them, or will AI completely transform the way we educate students? Relatedly: Will learning happen anywhere and anytime as opposed to a set location and time? Will we be better matched with people online that share common interests and abilities? Will we see just-in-time learning that’s integrated into our jobs? What should we be teaching to best prepare us for the real world – and can big data help in this regard?

Creating long-lasting generational impact in societies with the objective of transforming the socioeconomic potential of all future generations can be achieved by a few levers such as health, finance and education. Developing societies have seen the evolution of several creative, sustainable finance and fintech impact models, and a few self-sustaining health impact models at the bottom of the pyramid. 

The impact of education is relatively slow, and harder to measure through well-defined and known metrics such as increase in family income, increase in investments or disposable income, etc.  However, including more students into the fold of primary education; ensuring that girls stay in school longer; ensuring higher high school completion rates for children are some of the easily measurable metrics. Other finer metrics are region and local culture dependent. 

Some market leading organizations are using commercial equity investments, debt instruments, grants and even investment bonds to create measurable impact in this space.  Independent organizations that specialize in outcome measurements are also looking at extending their expertise through consulting work. Given this fast-evolving landscape, we are seeing an emergence of education as an important impact asset class. 

The purpose of this panel is to identify the opportunities and the challenges and forewarn that the usual metrics of impact may not be applicable but the usual lessons of creating impact may transfer over.

Education is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Students come to class with their own learning fingerprint that represents their individual capabilities and needs. As such, educators need affordable, scalable, and personalized tools and methodologies that recognize the relative skillsets of their students while providing pathways for improvement.

Unique learners, a group that includes students facing challenges such as learning disabilities, language barriers, or the lack of a gifted program, must be part of the movement toward personalized education. Fortunately, rising awareness and acceptance of unique learners has led to an upward trend in the number of children receiving support. In the Philippines, for example, students with learning disabilities increasingly have access to individual education plans. But there is a long way to go, as many parents continue to disregard the advice of professionals and extract children from school if therapy is recommended.


For learning-disabled students to thrive and potentially become independent they must be empowered to build upon their skills and passions. Over the next decade, there will need to be a greater number of specialized schools that embrace inclusive, personalized, and holistic learning. These schools will need to offer quality education despite growing class sizes and the continued burden of rising costs.

Emerging problems and associated solutions:

As schools in Southeast Asia tackle the larger question of how to provide the best educational experience to unique learners, multiple related issues will need to be solved:

  • 1. What are the business models that will enable educators and entrepreneurs to establish affordable, quality schools and therapy centers for unique learners?
  • 2. In inclusive schools, how do parents of neurotypical students react toward having their children learn and socialize with special needs students? Do these parents consider inclusivity to be a beneficial approach for teaching their own kids?
  • 3. Considering its potential for distracting some unique learners, e-learning technology represents a difficult piece of the puzzle. More, schools in Southeast Asia are generally teacher-led, with less priority and budget placed on technology-oriented solutions. How then can educators integrate e-learning technology into a special needs environment so that it makes a positive learning impact? Should technology be used at all?
  • 4. Greater awareness and acceptance has resulted in more children being diagnosed with learning disabilities at an earlier age. Will there be sufficient training for teachers to understand this changing dynamic and how best to support unique learners?

In China, one of the first education sectors to take off was after-school tutoring, typically provided as a supplement to government-run institutions. Some of these tutoring companies have grown quite large and include publicly traded firms such as TAL Education Group, which saw $620 million revenue in 2015 from over 300 tutoring centers.

After-school tutoring is only the tip of the iceberg, however. The Chinese education market has grown considerably, expanding across verticals and borders to include private kindergartens, schools, study abroad, English language, online education and education technology. According to Deloitte, the Chinese education market is expected to grow from 1.6 trillion yuan ($236B) in 2015 to 2.9 trillion yuan ($429B) by 2020.

TAL, New Oriental, and other Chinese companies have all made forays into these fast-growing education sectors. These firms have also targeted markets in the U.S. and U.K. for strategic acquisitions, focusing largely on the transnational or ed-tech space. International investments are viewed as a means to expand the market and to access the most up-to-date learning methodologies, tools, and brands.


Many of China’s initial international education investments have been in the U.S. and U.K. However, these markets are crowded, and some of these companies may not be successful. What will China’s next investment destination be?

  • Chinese education investments in the U.S. and U.K. face stiff competition. Chinese investors may also suffer from credibility gaps.
  • China will increase investment in Asia Pacific, including Australia. For example, CDH Education’s $35M stake in Singapore-based Ednovation was one of the largest education investments of Q1 2017.

Emerging problems and associated solutions

An influx of Chinese capital into Southeast Asia will not make the local education sector successful automatically. Entrepreneurs will need to avoid the pitfalls, and learn the best practices of their predecessors across the globe.

  • What types of Southeast Asian education firms will be attractive to Chinese companies and investors?
  • What can be exported to China in terms of brand, technology, and know-how?
  • China invested a record amount in foreign companies in 2016 but that may be slowing in 2017 as the country pulls back on “blind and irrational investment.” Could international edtech firms fall out of favor?
  • Do Southeast Asian investors need to worry about competition from Chinese investors or firms?