What Matters To Me: James Centenera, Co-Founder And CEO Of The Ultimate Learning Accelerator
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters
Having had the opportunity to study overseas and pursue a multi-faceted career opened James Centenera’s eyes to the power of education to mould children’s futures. The Ultimate Learning Centre (TULA), the chain of after-school learning centres he founded in the Philippines, helps students learn while developing critical thinking and social skills.
Here, he describes his work in his own words.
As co-founder of TULA, I support the leadership team that creates and operates TULA learning centres in the Philippines. We serve children from a range of backgrounds—from the underprivileged attending public schools to the wealthy ones in private schools— to reduce inequality in the country. We aim to unlock their potential and set them up for a meaningful, successful life in the 21st century
I’m incredibly proud of the work our learning coaches do every week to tirelessly help Filipino children prepare for their future. Their work, just like that of all teachers, largely goes unnoticed, but is of fundamental importance to the future of society. We have launched four centres in the Philippines and replicated these programmes in two cities in Pakistan. These centres have educated hundreds of children, helping them develop character, attitude and skills, and also improving their academic grades in school. We also finally achieved an affordable learning centre model that is sustainable and ready for scale.
The transformative education that we deliver doesn’t happen in a week, a month or a few months. It takes time. So we realised we really had to educate parents on their role in guiding their children and how we can help
Convincing parents to invest in their children’s education every week has been our major challenge. The transformative education that we deliver doesn’t happen in a week, a month or a few months. It takes time. So we realised we really had to educate parents on their role in guiding their children and how we can help. We now engage parents regularly and bring them along on this learning journey.
My family is from the Philippines and my parents were chicken farmers while I was growing up, but I was privileged to receive an education in Australia. As such, I had amazing support to pursue a professional career in engineering, consulting and much more. But I should not be one of the lucky few. Opportunities should be available to everyone, no matter where they are born or who their parents are.
Opportunities should be available to everyone, no matter where they are born or who their parents are
— James Centenera
I believe in people, and that anyone can achieve anything. We are not born with a set talent. We can learn and excel at anything we put our mind to.
See more honourees from the Education category of the Gen.T List 2019.