Singaporean Edtech Startup LingoAce Kickstarts SEA Expansion With Indonesia

LingoAce has raised a total of US$13 million this year in two funding rounds. This is the startup’s first expansion into Southeast Asia.

LingoAce, a Singapore-based edtech startup that offers online language learning services, announced its expansion into Indonesia in a press release today. The announcement comes after LingoAce’s two fundraising rounds this year, which cumulatively add up to US$13 million.

The company bagged a $7 million Series A from Chinese venture capital fund Shunwei Capital in June this year. Earlier this month, it subsequently raked in another $6 million in a Series A+ round led by Sequoia Capital India and Shunwei as returning investor.

With its first expansion into Southeast Asia (SEA), LingoAce aims to hire over 500 local staff to cater to 200,000 registered students in Indonesia by 2022, the press release stated. It added that its first product in Indonesia will be online Mandarin classes.

LingoAce’s Indonesia Marketing Director Nirwanto Honsono said in the statement, “We will build a full operations unit in Indonesia ranging from customer service, operations and marketing, on top of training our teachers to better understand the needs and requirement of Indonesian students.”

He added that the startup will target the larger cities first, including Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan and Bandung.

Singapore-headquartered LingoAce was founded in 2017 and also operates in Beijing, Wuhan, Los Angeles, and most recently Bangkok. Targeting students aged 4 to 15 years, the startup offers a personalized and interactive Chinese language learning curriculum, the statement said.

LingoAce’s in-house team of curriculum specialists tailor globally-accredited syllabi offered by China and Singapore’s education ministry to cater to children from diverse cultural backgrounds. The lessons are offered by LingoAce’s professional Mandarin teachers in real-time, either in small group classes or individually, the statement added.

According to the press statement, LingoAce leverages multimedia, gamification, and AI-powered tools based on research-backed methodologies for effective Chinese learning. It added that the startup has delivered lessons to over 100,000 registered students across 80 countries to date.

Indonesia’s education crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional modes of education across the world. Earlier this year, as schools and colleges were shut down to combat the spread of the virus, students and teachers switched to online learning. But this exposed a vast gap in access to education since a significant number of children lack the gadgets or high-speed Internetrequired for remote learning.

In Indonesia, schools were shut in March, and many still remain closed. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), school shutdowns have impacted 224 million learners worldwide to date. And Indonesia’s Education Minister, former GO-JEK CEO Nadiem Anwar Makarim, told CNBC that this educational and learning crisis is not being discussed enough.

Makarim said in the interview that Indonesia’s challenge to ensure access to remote learning is ‘enormous.’ He added that the problem in Indonesia is more acute than in other regions of the world due to geographic and infrastructural challenges.

But Indonesia’s educational crisis requires far more than just increasing access to remote learning. Even prior to the pandemic, the country’s high-volume and low-quality educational system lagged behind global standards.

The Indonesian government hopes to develop a ‘world-class’ education system by 2025. But assessments of the country’s current education systems have revealed countless flaws. According to an assessment by independent international policy think-tank Lowy Institute, Indonesia’s education system lacks adequate funding, and suffers from human resource deficits and poor management.

The Lowy Institute report further states that Indonesian teachers often lack adequate subject knowledge and teaching skills, resulting in poor learning outcomes for students. But most importantly, the report highlights that the foundation of the education crisis in the country is the politics and power tussle.

With the aim to offer access to high-quality professional native teachers, LingoAce hopes to improve Indonesian students’ learning outcomes and education quality, the statement said. It added that, in order to support Indonesian students amidst the pandemic, the startup will offer one-year access to selected online Mandarin lessons for the first 100,000 Indonesian students who register by December 2020.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LingoAce Hugh Yao said, “We believe that our cross-border online language classes not only connect Indonesian students to experienced native-Mandarin speaking teachers, but also offers an engaging and efficient means catered to the learning habits of digitally-savvy young learners.”

Header image by tirachardz on Freepik

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