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Trailblazers This Education Champion Is Empowering Students In The Philippines

This Education Champion Is Empowering Students In The Philippines

This Education Champion Is Empowering Students In The Philippines
By Isabel Francisco
February 14, 2019
The founder of Edukasyon.ph has been working tirelessly towards improving the academic environment in the Philippines. He talks to Generation T about his drive to effect change

“I believe every student should be empowered to make a choice that is most relevant to them—which is where I hope Edukasyon.ph makes an impact,” says Generation T honouree Henry Motte-Muñoz, the CEO and founder of the online platform, which helps students make more informed decisions about their college options. 

Entering further education in the Philippines can be intimidating. Trying to navigate the application processes is a daunting task—and finance and accessibility issues can cause headaches. Organisation, planning and guidance are needed, which is where Motte-Muñoz’s three-year-old social enterprise fits in. “Our goal is to improve access to higher education,” he says, “and help students make better informed choices that will allow them to achieve their dream career.”

Motte-Muñoz studied at the London School of Economics and was later granted a company scholarship to Harvard Business School. The Filipino-French entrepreneur, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, has studied and worked in Paris, London and Zurich, but his heart remained in the Philippines. There, the education champion was struck by the plight of young learners struggling to gain access to schools and colleges.

Motte-Muñoz launched Edukasyon—and anti-corruption platform Bantay.ph­­—while still at Harvard to empower those students and arm them with the necessary tools to navigate the system, by allowing them to search more than 13,000 schools, 20,000 courses and 150 careers available to them in the Philippines. Edukasyon also offers advice, through blogs and expert content, on which courses to choose, and it makes it easier to apply to more than 250 local colleges and 100 colleges overseas. Motte-Muñoz tells us why access to education in the Philippines needs to improve, and what his firm is doing about it now.

Motte-Muñoz is an empowering public speaker
Motte-Muñoz is an empowering public speaker

How did you find yourself working in this industry?
I graduated from London School of Economics with a diploma in Economics and Economic History, so I’ve always had an interest in development. In particular, my undergraduate education shaped my views on how countries could develop their way out of poverty. I became passionate about the education sector once I realised that relevant education is the key to social progress, and that the path to education in the Philippines really is quite different from the one I experienced in Europe.

How did the Edukasyon’s concept come about?
I got the idea for Edukasyon in 2012, when I observed my cousin applying for college. I was shocked at the lack of information you could find online about the colleges, courses and scholarships that were available. It was in sharp contrast to the experience I had in Europe, where information was readily available on course offerings, school ratings and what jobs graduates got into [afterwards]. The application process [in Europe] was also very centralised—it was clear where I could apply and how. Understanding what is required of you and how to tackle each requirement is daunting, but doable if you have the right resources. When bombarded with a slew of information, students who are not naturally studious and those who live in environments not conducive to intellectual progress like rough neighbourhoods, weak access to the internet and complicated home lives are likely to forgo the college—or even high school—route. 

Why did you choose to focus on the Philippines?
One thing that I find lacking in our local education system is the push to empower students to take control of their own education, especially at the senior high school and college levels. Much of it is centred on obedience versus making personal choices—“I’m studying this because my parents or school said so” versus “I’m studying this because this is what I am good at and passionate about.” In a developing country like the Philippines, the struggles of the local government and weakness of the public education system are evident and unfortunate.

How can the higher education system improve?
There doesn’t seem to be much structure to how students choose what and where to study—they often rely on hearsay or the limited information available online. If they want to apply to multiple schools, they often have to do it manually at each school, which limits the pool of applications they can send. What happens is that they end up either choosing a course that isn’t really a great fit for them or going to a school that they can’t afford, hence a higher chance of shifting courses and eventually a lack of preparedness for employment. There are two ways I believe our education system can improve—by giving students more room to explore their interests at an early age and by giving them proper advice on how to choose a track, course and career that is relevant to their skills and interests.

Henry Motte-Muñoz is joined on stage at a conference in front of a backdrop for Edukasyon.ph
Henry Motte-Muñoz is joined on stage at a conference in front of a backdrop for Edukasyon.ph

How does Edukasyon work?
Students sign up on the platform for free and then they can readily search and apply for schools and scholarships. They can also learn about different careers and see related courses and schools if they choose to pursue specific career paths. We partner with schools, but differently according to their packages. We can curate content and ensure accurate information is published about their school and course offerings and we can send them student inquiries. We can also automate their application process so they receive applications through our platform.

Can any school connect with Edukasyon?
Information about all schools and courses is on our database, depending on what is available online. We don’t, however, explicitly feature any particular school on our platform. One of our core values is to empower students to make the choice for themselves, which requires us to be agnostic regarding schools to feature. This also means we do not get paid commissions for successful enrollees to avoid incentives to push students to the highest bidder. Instead, with our model, we encourage students to apply to as many schools as possible.

Is the platform only for pre-college and undergrad?
Beyond senior high school and undergraduate options, our platform also includes a search and apply option for more than 100 international colleges, as well as an expertly curated career section where students can learn more about popular career paths, the skills needed and those colleges offering courses for those paths.

What is your business model?
Schools pay a monthly subscription fee to be on the platform. In return, they get a yearly premium listing, the ability to receive inquiries and applications from Edukasyon and an analytics dashboard. Premium schools are also entitled to booths at the school fairs we hold on a regular basis. Students are not charged at all to search, apply to schools or attend fairs. The idea that countless potential-filled children are passing on higher-level education simply because of the barriers to entry and lack of information is unacceptable. With more academic thrusts like Edukasyon.ph taking centre stage in recent years, though, the future is looking much brighter.

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Trailblazers Education Philippines Ed-tech Henry Motte-Muñoz Higher Education

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