When we think of a preschool teacher’s job scope, most would often forget that they do more than just teach in a classroom.
Many childcare providers pull double duty, running the day-to-day of schools and centres, on top of playing their pivotal role in the formative years of our children’s education.
That is where Anak2U comes in with a mobile app for early education centres that may be just what they needed to get through the daily grind.
Wan Muzaffar Wan Hasim shares how he and his fellow hackathon veterans Aniq and Mohamad Faizal Razak created this handy tool.
Hitting The Books
Anak2U was started because the trio sought to solve a little known problem unique to early education centres: the time consumed by teachers filling up student reports.
“This is mandatory and traditionally done by logbooks. Teachers normally spend around 2 hours daily for an average class of 35 to 40 students just to perform this manual task,” Wan Muzaffar said.
Even the simple activity of colouring in pictures of traditional Malaysian outfits has to be logged correctly under government-set learning milestones categories.
Thanks to the digitisation of the logbook process by Anak2U, the time taken for a teacher to fill up their logbooks is now reduced to 15 to 20 minutes per class.
They also identified that Malay-speaking and Islam-centric schools, in particular, lacked the tools to track the learning milestones of their students.
Since their closest competitor also catered especially to Chinese-speaking schools, the Anak2U team saw the opportunity of tapping into the Malay/Islamic market first.
Pocket-Sized Teacher’s Pet
Anak2U also wants to solve the problem of lengthy class preparation times, due in part to the lack of readily available teaching materials.
“Teachers need reliable material to adapt and use in the classroom. To help with that, our app provides class resources in line with KSPK (National Preschool guideline by the Ministry of Education) and PERMATA standards,” Wan Muzaffar said.
Working with university researchers, Anak2u’s class materials are available in physical and digital form, in both English and Malay, and can be translated upon request.
They have also implemented blended learning through the use of Augmented Reality (AR) to project digital content on physical paper.
Along with the above features, the app serves as a consolidated platform where both teachers and parents can keep track of the children’s progress, school announcements, documents and bill payments.
It even has an in-app messenger system for childcare providers and parents to communicate with one another.
Wan Muzaffar shared that their upcoming plan is to introduce an ‘individualised learning’ feature for their app.
“Thanks to the data we’ve gathered from teachers, we will be able to analyse and recommend how a child should be taught based on each individual child’s progress and way of learning,” Wan Muzaffar explains.
As he puts it, each child learns differently and it is important for parents and teachers to adopt the most effective teaching techniques for each child.
When asked if Anak2U has any plans to expand to help primary or secondary schools, Wan Muzaffar reveals that they are open to the idea in the future.
“We are constantly enhancing our current systems and plan to integrate the latest technology such as handwriting or speech recognition, to give more value to early education centres,” he said.
“Once we have a complete set of resources for early education centres to adopt throughout the school year, only then will we begin expanding into primary and secondary schools.”
Early Education, Early Adoption
Anak2U has been building and enhancing its product with RM100,000 from InvestPenang through the Penang Seed Fund.
Currently, Wan Muzaffar shared that they’re only generating around RM5,000 to RM6,000 in monthly revenue.
This is because they’re still offering free trials to schools as part of their introductory promotion, and their main revenue comes from transaction fees.
Per student, Anak2U either charges RM3 or 5% of the billing amount (whichever amount is lower for a particular centre) in transaction fees.
They also offer differently priced plans for childcare centre owners depending on their needs, alongside design services for website creation, logos, pamphlets and more.
Remaining optimistic, he states that they aim to reach at least 100 schools for the upcoming school year in 2020.
So far, a total of 39 schools have adopted Anak2U, with another 20 schools pending installation over the next few weeks.
Surprisingly to him, a majority of them aren’t from KL or Selangor, and are from Terengganu, Pahang and Johor instead.
But as Wan Muzaffar shares, it is still a challenge to convince schools to adopt their app. Some are too used to the traditional paper-and-ink approach, especially the older generation.
“We overcome this by educating the teachers first, and once they are on board, it becomes easier to convince centre owners or principals,” Wan Muzaffar said.
They also reach out to parents, especially millennials, who have become a valuable voice of support due to their receptiveness of the technology.
“As per government objectives, teachers should focus on actually teaching, which is why we at Anak2U are helping to ease their other tasks through the power of digitisation,” Wan Muzaffar concluded.
- You can read more about what we’ve written on mobile apps here.
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Featured Image Credit: Anak2U