While visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia, Anand Joshi from team Guru-G and members of the Unreasonable Media film team took a day trip to visit the floating village of Tonle Sap. Shortly after touring the village, Anand spotted a school and, eager to learn about it’s facilities and teachers for his company’s research, asked the boat driver if he could tour it. Upon arriving at the school, we immediately sensed something odd. We heard that all the children attending the school were orphaned from a typhoon that had killed their parents a few years ago, but there was no evidence that the school was supported by the government or NGO. The children entertained visiting tourists by banging on drums and singing songs. Afterwards, the tourists were expected to pay the “school teacher” while the children went off to watch a broken down TV in the back of the room playing an obscure American sci-fi film.
Later that day, we received a pamphlet on our Tuk-Tuk (carriage pulled by a motorcycle) with these disturbing facts from research by UNICEF:
United Nations Children’s Fund reported that while the number of Cambodian orphans has decreased, the number of orphanages has increased, and out of the 269 that exist, only 21 of those are run by the state; the rest are privately operated.
UNICEF states that of the nearly 12,000 children living in Cambodian orphanages today, only 28 percent have lost both parents.
Was the school a scam, tourists trap, or a struggling school off the grid? These unanswered questions left Anand realizing that in order to reach every teacher in the world with their educational software platform, they have a long way to go.
A week later, we received another contrasting culture shock when we arrived in the booming and thriving city of Singapore. After the entrepreneurs took stage and pitched at INSEAD, one of the world’s most prestigious business schools, we enjoyed a reception on the rooftop of the Fullerton Bay Hotel (while capturing a timelapse).