Since 2017, Hanamaru Lab has been working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of the ‘Public-Private Partnerships for Overseas Development Support Project’ to develop the training of critical thinking and problem-solving skills in Cambodia’s elementary schools with the Lab’s flagship app, Think!Think!.
Improving the quality of the educational system and its learning outcomes is a top national priority for Cambodia, given that both have deteriorated significantly in recent decades, especially under the regime of Pol Pot. In 2014, for example, only 26% of high school students graduated with a passing grade, and even though the Cambodian government has continued to make enormous strides since then, much work remains to be done to strengthen the overall competitiveness of Cambodia’s human resources.
To that end, the Cambodian government has entrusted us to bring our educational expertise and resources to bear on these issues, and with the whole-hearted cooperation of both Cambodia and Japan, we have been introducing Think!Think! in classrooms across the country as a means of supporting and innovating Early Childhood Education.
In 2018, Hanamaru Lab and Keio University carried out a large-scale study to measure the effectiveness of Think!Think! on children’s learning outcomes. Out of 40 classes across public elementary school in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, 20 classes were randomly selected to use Think!Think! for three months as part of their math lessons. The treatment and control groups were tested before and after the study in order to compare their results.
The study showed that the Third Graders improved their grades by a standard deviation of 0.69 and Fourth Graders improved by a standard deviation of 0.61, with all students showing an increased interest in going on to study at a university according to post-treatment surveys. Even though Think!Think! does not directly target math skills or IQ levels, using the app resulted in much higher improvements in theses areas than other such learning tools tested under similar conditions. What’s more, these improvements were distributed evenly among all students regardless of specific attributes such as gender or parental education.
We believe that these encouraging results vindicate our efforts to develop an educational app that focuses not on developing individual cognitive skills, but on fostering a love of using ones cognitive skills in general, as well as our efforts to innovate education in the developing world and improve the lives of Cambodia’s children. Think!Think! is a learning tool that can be hugely beneficial for children everywhere, and we look forward to bringing it to more classrooms in the future!
●Nominated for 2019 Google Play Awards “Best Social Impact”
●Full text of the study completed by Keio University, Nakamuro Makiko Laboratory
●Khmer Times: Think!Think!: Primary students get their Math ‘study buddy’
●JICA Public Partnership Program