SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Malaysia 2017 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Raja Singham, Managing Director of Brickfields Asia College, on its partnership programs with foreign universities, its innovative free education platform, and supporting startups.

Raja Singham
BIOGRAPHY
Raja Singham is the founder and Managing Director of Brickfields Asia College, where he also works as Senior Lecturer for students taking the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP). Over the past two decades, BAC has grown into a network of campuses in KL and Petaling Jaya, offering a broad selection of courses. Furthermore, Singham has authored numerous texts and study manuals in areas of Law of Evidence, Land Law, Law of Tort, Law of Contract and The English Legal System.

Who do you work with in your academic and practical courses and programs?

For our degrees we work with a number of British universities. We also work with big law firms and large multinationals. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement as they seek and find talent among our graduates. It is often experience where recruiters find a gap between academia and the demands of the workplace. That is the reason why we invite industry professionals to teach practical skills, like negotiation, drafting documents, and presentation. In addition, we offer specific non-legal courses like project and risk management for students to develop a more holistic approach to their field of study.

You are a strong promoter of inclusive education, for which you have launched EduNation. Can you tell us more about this initiative?

EduNation is our free education platform inspired by the Khan Academy, which has been successful in the US. The problem with the Khan Academy for our students is that it does not follow the Malaysian syllabus and not all Malaysian children have the English proficiency to understand the English videos. Also, 80% of the videos are about math, whereas we wanted to cover a broader spectrum of subjects, including some Malaysian and Southeast Asian-specific subjects. Therefore, three years ago we started with EduNation and invested in it as a CSR initiative. To date, it has almost 4,000 videos, covering the entire secondary school syllabus for 12 subjects, and more than 100,000 students are using it. The videos are currently available in English and Malay, and this year we will also offer Mandarin and Tamil versions for primary schools, so it will all be available in four languages. Most of our students are from Malaysia, followed by the US, the UK, Australia, and Singapore. Most of the science videos are in English, and have gained traction all over the world. We are now looking at complementing the videos with printed versions to make the studying process more comprehensive. EduNation is a completely private initiative, and has grown to be the largest educational resource for primary and secondary schools in Malaysia. We do everything ourselves, we have a great team, and it has been extremely satisfying to help children learn and enjoy learning, and to create a real community around the initiative, with teachers, parents, children, and our team of developers

Brickfields runs over 15 companies, including a number of tech startups. How do you go about starting and choosing your investments?

We run so many companies that it becomes difficult for us to be the champion in every field. In our CSR initiatives, we look to see who can make the biggest difference for those who need the most help. We help promote, fund, and support those who have innovative ideas to raise money for charitable causes like education, children in need, women's issues, or those suffering from rare diseases. We act as an incubator for startups to help them achieve these objectives, which are for of social good. Besides EduNation, we organize a number of charity events, and managed a food relief program for flood victims in Sri Lanka, in which we spearheaded the national relief efforts and our university campus served as the main collection point, providing an effective channel for people from different walks of life to contribute. Another thing we do is teachers' training. The UNHCR approached us with this request and it was not difficult for us. We already have the premises and just had to hire some experts in education. The program unfolded and the experts trained 450 people, who would in turn train 5,000 people. It is all about leveraging our resources for these purposes. In a similar way, we work with a women's organization that runs an entrepreneurship program whereby participants later receive a MYR2,000 grant to start their own business. We teach them about financing, branding, and all other expects of running a business.