Finding a way to provide sustainable, high quality education access to the ten million children that live in urban slums is a daunting challenge. Convincing a panel of internationally renowned judges that this solution is the best amongst 500 different ideas is even harder. However, for the group of ANU students who have made it to the regional final in the prestigious $1 million Hult Prize, this is exactly what they must do.
The ANU Team, which is comprised entirely of students from the Crawford School of Public Policy, will be departing for Shanghai, China to compete in the regional round on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March against 39 other finalists. Host cities for other regional finals include Boston, San Francisco, London, and Dubai.
At the event, they will have only five minutes to convince the judges that their solution merits start-up funding. Following this, one winning team from each host city will progress to the final round of the competition. Ultimately, the winner of the Hult Prize will receive USD$1 million from Former US President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation to assist in the implementation of their plan.
“Our team strongly believes that education is the foremost right to every single child in the world and therefore we have full spirit to tackle this year’s challenge,” said Olivia Purba, the ANU team leader. Purba is currently undertaking a Master of Environmental Management and Development diploma.
Given that their idea is still open to speculation from judges, Purba could not share the specifics of their plan. However she is confident that it will be an effective venture into solving the problems currently affecting urbanized areas.
“Our project is called MoboKiddo. We are trying to address early education issues for underprivileged children by utilising technology inside of a bus. This project is a business model where the children could learn together not only through technology, but also by emphasising elements of volunteerism, peer-to-peer review and traditional games,” she said.
This is the fourth year in a row that the ANU has been represented at the regional stage in the Hult Prize Challenge. This is the first year that all members of the team are from the Crawford School of Public Policy.
Joining Purba are her Crawford School classmates; Thet Zaw, Muhammad Farhan Akhtar, Xavier Flores Aguirre, and recent graduate Ashutosh Mani Dixit. Financial assistance was provided by the Crawford School and the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.
All students are currently studying under the Australia Awards Scholarship Program, which is administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This scholarship program provides opportunities for people from developing countries to undertake full time undergraduate or postgraduate study at the ANU. The students are from Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar and Ecuador.