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This S'pore Startup Just Raised US$1M To Make Learning Fun: Teaches Science, Coding To Kids

Launched in early 2020, Singapore-based startup Doyobi is raising the next generation of change-makers.

The edtech just announced a US$1 million (S$1.37 million) funding round led by 500 Startups and Xoogler Angels.

Under Doyobi’s courses, children are taught science and coding fundamentals. Depending on their age group, kids can learn how to code on Scratch or Python.

The project-based curriculum helps educators teach planning and design thinking to learners, who prototype solutions for issues identified under the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

“One of my favourite quotes on teaching is ‘Point to the stars. Provide rockets,’” says John Tan, founder and CEO of Doyobi.

“Doyobi provides rockets, so teachers can focus on pointing to the stars and help learners get there.”

Education That Cultivates Individuality And Initiative

Doyobi was founded to make kids think bigger.

John, a father of five and veteran of the education industry, founded Doyobi to resolve a gap he identified in mainstream education.

john tan ceo of doyobi
John Tan, founder and CEO of Doyobi / Image Credit: BLLNR

The expectation (in our society) is to get good grades, go to a good college, get a good (read: well-paying) job. Full stop.

But what if instead of becoming a lawyer, I want to rewrite the constitution? What if instead of becoming a banker, I want to solve poverty?”

John Tan, founder and CEO of Doyobi

According to John, Doyobi is a retaliation against the one-size-fits-all approach to education.

“In the age of artificial intelligence, it’s mind-boggling that most teachers are still expected to spend most of their time in the classroom teaching the same content at the same pace to a class full of unique individuals.”

“Education — done right — can nurture curiosity, creativity and a growth mindset in kids.”

Doyobi Teaches Scratch And Python To Young Learners

An offshoot of Saturday Kids, Doyobi’s curriculum is used in Code In The Community, the largest free coding program in Singapore supported by Google and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Doyobi enlisted the help of Associate Professor Stella Christie, the Director of Tsinghua University Child Cognition Center, to achieve optimal learning outcomes.

At present, the edtech startup offers two twenty-hour science and coding courses. Both courses are aligned to K12 Standards, pedagogy taught across Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Launching in August 2020, Science With Code teaches MOE syllabus-aligned content with block-based programming

Learners develop codes for games or simulations which extend their understanding of real-world issues. That includes issues like pollution and renewable energy.

Under Doyobi’s Scratch and Python coding courses, learners as young as eight years old can learn how to program in major coding languages.

coding class kids singapore
Image Credit: Saturday Kids

Content is delivered through an integrated learning platform. Quizzes, interactive video, and games are used to maintain learner engagement.

Lessons are structured in a fun and engaging way to nurture curiosity, creativity and a growth mindset. While educators lead lessons, students set their own pace.

Pandemic An Opportunity To Reinvent Education

The Covid-19 pandemic has opened up attitudes towards education.

“We’ve seen tremendous success backing for edtech companies like Udemy early on. But this is different,” says Kjailee Ng, the Managing Partner at 500 Startups.

“Governments and parents see how powerful alternative platforms like Doyobi can be.”

Doyobi edtech startup coding science class
Image Credit: Doyobi

According to Holon IQ, funding for edtech startups grew from US$500 million in 2010 to US$7 billion in 2019. Another US$87 billion is expected to be invested over the next 10 years.

Virginia Tan, the founding partner at Teja Ventures echoes the data.

“We believe edtech in Southeast Asia has reached an inflexion point post-Covid-19. (There is a) gap in the market in the K12 space for STEM and extracurricular learning.”

Doyobi is global from day one and ultimately aims to create scalable education that can impact millions of learners.

“Human beings have it within us to make a difference, to leave the world better than we found it, but there aren’t enough of us who think like that.”

 “As Jaime Casap (long time Chief Education Evangelist at Google) puts it, “Why are we shooting so low with ‘college and career ready’?

We need to make problem-solvers, inventors, change-makers, policy creators, business owners, build wealth. Getting a ‘job’ should be our student’s backup plan.”

John Tan, founder and CEO of Doyobi

Featured Image Credit: Doyobi

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