Khan Academy eyeing to increase usage of learning platform in PHL

MADRID, Spain — Online learning service Khan Academy is in talks with a philanthropist in the United States to advance efforts in the Philippines, its founder said.

“I’ve just met a philanthropist in New York. She’s a Filipino by birth, and she’s very interested in accelerating Filipino efforts,” Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan told reporters at the recent South Summit 2022, a global business summit in Madrid co-organized by the IE University.

“She was saying that the Philippines is taught systemically in English, especially at the high school level, and that it’s very close to the American system fundamentally,” he added.

Khan Academy, which was started in 2005, provides free online learning materials for all ages, including practice exercises and instructional videos. It covers, among others, mathematics, science, computing, history, art history, and economics.

According to Mr. Khan, resources are being localized and translated into more than 36 languages,

Supported by individual contributions, the organization advocates for “free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”

Khan Academy is not yet widely used in the Philippines, according to Mr. Khan.

North America accounts for 50% of the academy’s 20-30 million monthly users. It has a significant number of users in Brazil and India, Mr. Khan said.

To accelerate its efforts in the Philippines, Khan Academy will likely need $2 million a year, he noted.

“The $2 million is our baseline. With $2 million a year, we could then get a team in the Philippines starting to localize content. We could start hiring some people to start working with the government, start getting into schools, and start doing teacher training.”

He also welcomed the entry of Starlink Internet Services Philippines, Inc., a subsidiary of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., into the local scene, which is expected to address the connectivity gaps in the unserved and underserved areas of the country.

“I think everyone now, especially with the pandemic, they get that this is important — that just to be connected to the world is important,” he said.

“If you can just provide these kids with devices and reasonable internet access, you are essentially giving them a lifeline, you are giving them at least a safety-net education that might be better in certain cases than what they have access to.”

Mr. Khan also said that the pandemic has caused a substantial increase in the typical number of users on the platform.

“In normal times, we had about 25 to 30 million learning minutes per day. That went up to 85 million learning minutes per day within the first week of the pandemic. So, a lot of people were living on these types of resources.”

“I think it’s been good that we’ve had Zoom and Khan Academy and all of these resources, but I think because it happened so fast, it was, I mean it was much worse if we didn’t have all these online resources, but we did not have the time to think it through and so a lot of people had probably not optimal experiences being on a video conference all day or whatever they are using to learn,” he added.

He pointed out that there is a need to prepare for the next emergency.

“Let’s make sure that there is a safety net, and you know it’s not just during a pandemic that we need a safety net. We need a safety net when we have refugees. Let’s look at what’s happening in Ukraine right now and see how those kids are learning.” — Arjay L. Balinbin

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