Solution Overview

Solution Name


One-line solution summary

Equipping early-learners of Indonesia with 21st century skills by providing inclusive and accessible game-based learning platforms

Pitch your solution

Some international tests have shown that Indonesian students ranked below average in Science, Math, and Reading. One of the tests was PISA that Indonesia has joined since 2001. Since then, performance in science has fluctuated but remained flat overall, while performance in both reading and mathematics has been hump-shaped. Only a few students in Indonesia attained Level 5 and 6, justifying the limitation of higher-order thinking skills prior to “learning poverty” in which children have difficulties to access “inclusive and equitable quality education”. Most Indonesian teachers are still focusing on memorization which is ineffective to develop criticality and creativity. The heavy burden of administrative tasks and their inadequate knowledge of 21st century learning have hindered them to practice a more creative method. 

Therefore, ICANDO comes to provide game-based learning activities in  Early Childhood Education through ICANDO KIDS, PARENTS, and SCHOOL. ICANDO KIDS provides game-based learning activities for children aged 3 - 6 years old. The method has been proven positive to develop HOTS through a more contextual discovery play. ICANDO PARENTS enables the three parties in education to communicate effectively and monitor children's development. ICANDO SCHOOL provides step-by-step guides to instruction, incorporating the games in ICANDO Kids. Teachers can save up to 50% of their time on administrative tasks.

Today, more than 500 schools with 3000 students in Indonesia have been using ICANDO. We believe that focusing on ECE with an innovative approach and guidance is a good investment in education.

Film your elevator pitch.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Strengthen delivery of STEM and 21st century skills for learners to effectively build work readiness

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Jakarta, Indonesia

Is your solution working in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and/or Malaysia?

  • Indonesia

What specific problem are you solving in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and/or Malaysia?

Since the first time Indonesian students joined PISA in 2001, the results in literacy, mathematics, and science attainment have never shown a satisfying result. Students’ performance stayed under the average for years, with science fluctuating but remained flat overall, while both reading and mathematics were hump-shaped. In 2012, Indonesian students’ mathematics skills were in the bottom two. In 2015, only 2% of students showed Level 4 (effectively making connections between concrete phenomena and science concepts) and above in Science, with 56% students were in Level 1 (showing limited scientific knowledge that can only be applied to a few, familiar situations). Meanwhile, in the same year, students believed that their teachers had clearly explained the relevance of science to their daily life. Recently in 2018, Indonesia still ranked 75 among 77 countries, with all three subjects being under average. The aforementioned statistics show how urgent the condition is, considering how higher-order-thinking skills were not developed significantly for almost two decades. Furthermore, these students believe that the teachers have done their best to prepare them for the future without knowing that their critical thinking and creativity are the most important skills to possess for their future. In fact, most teachers are bound to a traditional lecturing method, requiring the students only to remember lots of learning materials. However, the teachers are not the only party to blame for this problem. Heavy administrative workloads have hindered them from practising a more creative method. If this condition continues, Indonesia will lose a generation.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We solve the limited development of 21st century skills among Indonesian learners. Considering the risk it brings to the whole generation, we pay attention to the earliest education stage, the Early Childhood Education (ECE). Early children are in their golden age in which eighty percent of brain development occurs during this period. Many researchers have reported that developing ECE is a good investment considering its ability to improve children’s cognitive development and learning in the next stages. 

However, ECE still receives inadequate attention in Indonesia for various reasons: the government’s decision not to make it compulsory, limited parental awareness, insufficient infrastructure, and limited skilled teachers (only 32% ECE teachers in Indonesia obtained a diploma in education). Nevertheless, the Indonesian government is currently campaigning the importance of ECE so more parents will enrol their children in ECE. It is still a long way to go until ECE gets the same attention as other stages but we believe that the government is going in the right direction. For example, the government has taken ICANDO as a reliable partner in facing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To support this, we also address the issue of teachers’ limited competence and parents’ disinvolvement in students’ learning by providing step-by-step lesson guides and supporting better interactions among schools and parents. We cooperate with the professional teacher associations for preschool (HIMPAUDI) and kindergarten (IGTKI) in Indonesia. We also collaborate with universities for research and development. In 2020, we designed exemplary schools where we tested our approach and products.

How does the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge?

Indonesian learners are underperforming in Math, Science and Literacy as a result of inefficiency in the delivery of the lessons, especially the delivery of STEM, and 21st century skills. It is important for us to state that our solution can actually address the aforementioned challenges. 

First, we propose to secure Early Childhood Education, considering the golden period of the students that their brain can develop 80% during those years as long as they are given perfect scaffolds in learning. Therefore, we also propose game-based education as a perfect method to scaffold children’s learning. Game-based education has long been considered to be able to improve motivation, engagement, and 21st century skills. With more than 2000 mini-games in ICANDO Kids which covers different aspects like language, numeracy, science, arts, and morale, we believe that children will be able to learn better, transfer the skills in their daily life, and be ready for their future challenges in the upcoming educational stages.  

Following the game-based learning activities is the learning management system (LMS) that enables parents and teachers to track children’s learning. The LMS provides access for teachers and parents to assign those games and to get reports on children’s achievements. Teachers are equipped with step-by-step lesson guides that can optimize their teaching. Considering how limited the pedagogical knowledge of ECE teachers in Indonesia is, the lesson guide and the full collection of game-based learning activities are suitable to effectively develop 21st century skills as early as possible.

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Scale: A sustainable project or enterprise working in several contexts, communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Syaiful Lokan as CEO.

More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

What makes your solution innovative?

ICANDO utilises game-based education in the school ecosystems and fully supports it with the latest technology for each stakeholder. Teachers, children, and parents are equipped with educational apps that can synergise to enhance children’s learning, especially 21st century skill development.

Our app for kids, ICANDO Kids, implements game-based education which has been proven to improve children’s learning engagement, motivation, and 21st century skills. It is aimed at early children who are in their golden moments. In order to make the most of the golden age, the game-based learning activities in ICANDO Kids are carefully developed with discovery learning. In each activity or game, children are served with problems and they can explore many choices and construct their own knowledge to solve the problems. In addition, we provide instant feedback, voice recognition, and handwriting recognition to help children develop their early literacy and numeracy skills. We hope children can rehearse their cognitive skills throughout these media and develop their 21st century skills, critical thinking and creativity. Furthermore, the game-based app is specially designed to answer the needs of the Indonesian National Curriculum and is linked to a learning management system where teachers can use the games as teaching materials.

Our learning management system, ICANDO School, provides an integrated service for teachers, starting from a step-by-step lesson guide that complies with the National Curriculum to the children’s development report. Not only the teachers, but parents are also involved in the learning process to cooperate with the teachers and guide the children.

Have you tested your solution’s approach? If so, how?

We have been implementing the Build-Measure-Learn approach in ICANDO. We put our customers’ experience for research and development. 

We started ICANDO in 2018 and tested our first design for several schools in 2019, focusing on ICANDO Kids. From the test, we found that a step-by-step lesson guide is crucially needed, so we developed ICANDO Schools. After another series of testing, we learned that parents’ involvement is crucial in ECE, so we made ICANDO Parents. Today, we serve more than 600 schools with an adoption team committed to guiding teachers to acquire the technology. 

Moreover, there are several published articles analysing the effectiveness of our solution. Among them, two researchers found that ICANDO can ease teachers’ tasks (Churiyah, 2020) and improve students’ learning motivation and comprehension (Damayanti, Suradika, and Asmas 2020). We are taking research and development seriously, considering there is more research being undertaken this year.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The core technology of ICANDO is designed to support offline-first technology and can be operated with low-end devices in order to serve our diverse market which are dominantly covered by an underserved community. For the same reason, we also develop “Smart Tables” for frontier regions of Indonesia with limited access to the internet. It is a table which is equipped with a tablet on each slide and can be used by up to 80 children.   

In terms of Cloud Computing, we use AWS S3  to support our up-to-date and dynamic content. Next, to provide lower size content, we also optimize our installer by using an APK file for Android and an IPA for iOS. Finally, to support integrated systems for students, teachers, and schools, we use AWS EC2 for multi-tenant and multi-layer architecture. Each data performance obtained from users will be stored locally and synchronised to the cloud regularly when internet connection is detected. Data can also be obtained manually when needed.   

As a game-based education app, ICANDO provides instant feedback for meaningful learning. To enhance children's experience in both spoken and written early literacy, we use Android-Speech-Recognizer for Voice Recognition and Google-ML-Kit for Handwritten Recognition. Both can still be used offline. Besides, we use Unity Engine which is known for its capability to develop animation, music, and intense interactivity for more engaging contents.

Finally, with our core technology and community support, we have been able to develop game-based learning activities in ICANDO rapidly.

What is your theory of change?

ICANDO focuses on the development of STEM and 21st-century skills from an early age. We strongly believe that the synergy of a game-based education app, an integrated teachers’ app, and a meaningful parent app can be efficient in achieving our target.

We started ICANDO in Indonesia hoping to solve the problem of underperforming students. Until recently, Indonesian children still performed under average compared to other OECD countries in math, science, and literacy in PISA (OECD 2019). The data also indicates further discussion on the social-economy condition that put larger disparities on students’ competence. If we look solely at income, Indonesia is showing a positive result in eradicating poverty. However, when we define poverty from a larger perspective, 90% of Indonesian children can be considered underprivileged and 35% of them are caused by difficult access to education (UNICEF 2016).

To solve the problem, as an entry point we aimed at implementing game-based education for early childhood in ECE. As Vygotsky has long revealed (1978), early children are in their golden moments because their brain can develop up to 80% with sufficient support from their surroundings. We are using game-based learning because of its effectiveness in improving motivation (Ryan and Rigby 2020), cognition (Mayer 2020), and affection (Loderer, Pekrun, and Plass 2020). 

There are several steps that we have taken, including product development, cooperation with ECE teacher association, and cooperation with universities for R&D. First, we created ICANDO Schools and Parents. ICANDO Schools provides step-by-step lesson guides for teachers to incorporate game-based education in their classroom, while also developing their digital literacy and improving their teaching. ICANDO parents enable parents to be involved in their children’s learning process. Second, we cooperate with HIMPAUDI and IGTKI (ECE teacher association) to help our campaign and promotion. Third, we do research regularly in cooperation with lecturers from different universities by measuring children’s attainment in various aspects of development. 

We believe our target can be achieved when children learn through qualified materials (ICANDO Kids) and are taught by skilful teachers using ICANDO School who communicate effectively with parents via ICANDO Parents.

Which target population(s) does your solution address?

  • Learners to use in classroom
  • Learners to use at home
  • Parents to use directly
  • Parents to use with children
  • Teachers to use directly
  • Teachers to use with learners
  • Used in public schools
  • Used in private schools
  • Used in ‘out-of-school’ centers

What are the key characteristics of your target population?

  • Children & Adolescents
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income

Which categories best describe your main EdTech product or service?

  • Communication, collaboration, and networks
  • Credentialing tools for qualifications
  • Management information systems
  • Personalized and adaptive learning
  • Platform / content / tools for learners

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Indonesia

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We measure our short-term goals regularly aiming to measure our approach towards our impact goal. 

First, with the establishment of ICANDO school and parents, we provide an adoption team who communicate regularly with our users and help them if they have problems. We also measure the amount of teachers who really use the app to support their teaching, which features they use the most, and what kind of problems they usually encounter. 

Second, regarding our cooperation with the teacher associations, we measure the registration and activation numbers of schools obtained from each channel. For the past three months only, they added 86% of school registration with 74% more students and 80% more teachers using ICANDO. 

Third, in relation to our research and development process in collaboration with researchers from different universities, we aim at measuring the effectiveness of our games in ICANDO Kids to develop children’s competencies by looking at the backend data and analyse them together. When we measure children’s development in solving problems in games, we gather data as follows: timestamp on when each child starts and finishes, the result, the frequency of trial, and the duration in finishing the game. From the data, we analyse if the child's performance shows a positive development in their trials through better results or shorter duration in finishing the game. For example, student ID 529xx played “Sliding Objects 1” five times. The kid got two stars in every trial, but the duration has decreased significantly from 50 seconds to 18 seconds.

What are your impact goals for the next year, the next three years, and the next five years? How will you achieve them?

Up until now, around 500 schools and more than 3,000 students have registered at ICANDO. We aim at improving our registration and adoption rate in the next three years. We also project to broaden our target market in five years. 

As it was stated several times in the previous section, ICANDO has been collaborating with big teachers’ associations for Early Childhood Education in Indonesia, namely HIMPAUDI and IGTKI. HIMPAUDI consists of ECE teachers from non-formal sectors. They have around 100,000 schools in their association. Meanwhile, IGTKI consists of ECE teachers from the formal sector. There are 125,000 schools under them. Looking at how the collaboration has brought 86% of sales increase in the last three months, we expect to gain 5,800 school registration by the end of next year and 100,000 schools in the next three years. With our current cooperation, channelling the associations and providing better assistance in adoption, we believe that the aforementioned target is reasonable.  

Moreover, we intend to diversify our product to other educational levels, such as primary and secondary schools. So in the next three years, we also expect to launch our apps for primary school students, parents and teachers. We hope we can gain 5,000 primary schools at that time. Last but not least, we plan to broaden our target market to Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your impact goals?

  • Financing
  • Cultural
  • Other

If you selected Other, please explain here.

Teachers’ insufficient digital literacy to adopt the apps.

Describe these barriers as they relate to your solution. How do you plan to overcome them?

Similar to other edtech startups, adoption is the biggest challenge for us. Aiming at Early Childhood Education, we need to synergise teachers, parents, and children at the same time. Teachers’ role is crucial here since they need to implement game-based education in their instruction. Unfortunately, digital literacy is still limited among ECE teachers, especially teachers in low-cost non-formal education centres, making them reluctant to accept and utilise game-based education. Most teachers know that changes are needed, but there is still confusion on how to do that. 

To overcome the problem, ICANDO invests in providing an adoption team for schools who are responsible for guiding teachers and parents to implement game-based education in their classrooms. We do not merely deploy salespersons into the team, but we employ education specialists who understand teachers’ needs on a daily basis. We also consider cultural aspects in creating the team, considering that baby boomer teachers can communicate better and more effectively with someone from the same background. Moreover, with our belief in the significance of play, we will provide gamification and awards for teachers who utilise our apps in the near future. The idea is to provide certain target use and grant awards when teachers actually use the designated features. For this, we are planning to cooperate with the directorate of teachers and education personnels and teacher associations to actualise this gamification idea.

More About Your Team

Please provide a brief history of your organization. What was the motivation behind starting your organization and/or the development of your solution?

Syaiful Lokan is an educational practitioner with nearly 20 years of experience with international and national curriculum exposure. As a strong proponent of 21st century learning, Syaiful has long been inducing cooperative learning and discovery learning in schools that he established since 2014. In the process, game-based learning is implemented and children can actually construct their knowledge, without really realising it. One of the main contributors to the success is the scripted lesson which was carefully crafted to guide each teacher to do their job. After building and developing several schools in remote areas in Indonesia, Syaiful realised that his educational purposes will be more impactful and cost-effective when school ecosystems are created with certain systems that can be accessed anywhere. 

In 2018, Syaiful started to build ICANDO with some colleagues who have the same vision in education. At first, we started with ICANDO Kids that we develop carefully with the science of game-based learning in mind. We tested the first version in ten schools in Jakarta and other regions like Cirebon, Purwakarta, and Sorong. After the test and knowing that the app was well-received among schools, we decided to develop learning management apps to support the game-based app. The LMS, with a step-by-step lesson guide and parent app is expected to synergise with the game-based app to create 21st century school ecosystems.

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

Up until September 2021, we have a total of 48 employees working in ICANDO which contains 2 personnel of BOD and BOC, 34 full-time staff, 1 part-time staff, and 11 internship staff. We separated into 3 functions such as development, sales and marketing, and operations teams.

How long have you been working on your solution?

We have been working for this solution for three years.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

To achieve our goals, Syaiful partnered up with Li Phin who has spent more than 20 years in serving schools and communities through church and HOPE foundation. Li Phin is experienced with giving family seminars focusing on teaching parenting in schools and local organizations and helping rural citizens improve their quality of life. The organization grew from 100 to 6200 members across Indonesia. Moreover, Li Phin has shown magnificent result in terms of business development with her businesses, i.e. “Ergoschool”, imported ergonomic furniture and school bags from Germany, and “Kaya Tea Organic”, an artisan tea company. Now “Ergoschool” is a well-known brand amongst schools and parents, with its store in Plaza Indonesia, a prestigious mall in Jakarta and “Kaya Tea Organic” has been used in over 150 restaurants and cafes across Indonesia. With this amazing background, Li Phin leads our sales and marketing forces as a CMO. 

In terms of technology, our development team is led by Prisyandiaffif Charifa as a CTO. He obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in Game Design from New York University. With concern in education, Fandi has spent several years developing serious games. He now acquires a great understanding of the end-to-end process in game development, leading game designers, artists, and programmers to comprehend and actualize the curriculum design. Finally, the team is complete with curriculum developers, game designers, artists, and programmers who are professional in their respective fields and passionate in education.

Provide an example of your Team Lead’s ability to conceptualize and implement a new idea.

As a CEO, Syaiful has long been proving his ability in conceptualizing and implementing his ideas. When he established schools in remote areas of Indonesia, he managed to incorporate cooperative learning by providing scripted lessons for each teacher. When his school in Riau was hit by smoke haze, he implemented a web-based learning for students that enabled students to improve their literacy. 

In ICANDO, he realised that adoption is a very difficult issue, especially in developing countries, like Indonesia. People are still struggling with both insufficient digital literacy and technical issues, such as blind spots, low internet connection, and expensive data plans. To minimize these constraints, Syaiful has implemented several ideas in both technological and educational aspects. In terms of technology, he started our innovation on offline mode, so ICANDO Kids can be accessed offline. Then, we also launched “Smart Table”, a table with four tablets on each side that can be used in every blind spot around Indonesia. In terms of education, we cooperate with teacher associations and improve teachers’ digital literacy so that game-based education can be implemented in our scheme of school ecosystems.

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

We have been working hand-in-hand with several organisations for both marketing and development aspects. 

In terms of marketing, we have been collaborating with Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher associations as our distribution channels. Those associations are HIMPAUDI (The Association of Indonesia’s ECE Teachers and Personnel) and IGTKI (The Association of Indonesia’s Kindergarten Teachers). To illustrate, there are 133,302 ECE schools in Java island only, which comprises 56.6 % percent of total schools in Indonesia. HIMPAUDI consists of 62,695 (47%) schools while IGTKI is composed of 70,463 (52.9%) schools. We make use of these connections by providing webinars and canvassing the attendees through each association.

Besides, we work with academicians from several universities for development purposes. The universities include The Electronic Engineering Polytechnic Institute of Surabaya, The State University of Jakarta, and Trunojoyo University. The collaboration involves research and development aspects, in which we invite them to join a collaborative research and confirm our development plans. 

With the aforementioned collaboration, we have been able to improve our products from time-to-time and obtained 80 percent more customers in the last three months.

Partnership & Growth Opportunities

Why are you applying to the Octava Social Innovation Challenge?

It is with great intention of scaling up our solution that we apply to the Octava Social Innovation Challenge. We aim at getting the best of its support program. For the past three years, we have been working locally with local resources targeting local exposures in Indonesia. We have been counting on our own resources to develop our products and business while facing our biggest barriers, adoption. 

We strongly believe in the expertise of Octava and MIT Solution in helping EdTech startups to scale up. To begin with, we are eager to use the financial grant to support our adoption program for teachers, raise our market acquisition, and develop primary school contents. The nearest plan to execute is to provide digital literacy training for teachers and gamification to improve their motivation via constructive rewards. We believe that we can enhance our adoption program to develop teachers’ digital literacy thus they can improve their teaching method for the sake of Indonesian children. Moreover, we humbly need more guidance in developing a comprehensive needs assessment, building great networking with partners, mentors and coaches, and developing a greater business model to scale up our solution for a wider market segment, primary skills.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Network connections (e.g. government, private sector, implementation communities)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
  • Technology / Technical Support (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)

Please explain in more detail here.

As a local EdTech solution based in Indonesia, we are greatly passionate about implementing game-based education in school environments to improve children’s 21st century skills so they can be ready for their future. However, developing great content is not enough. Teachers need to be motivated, trained, and assisted to be able to improve their own teaching method. We believe in the integrity and track records of Octava and MIT Solve that we can be chosen and guided to be able to scale up. 

We are currently doing our best in every aspect of development, sales and marketing, and business development. Nevertheless, to be able to scale up we need your support in coaching, networking, and financing. As it was mentioned before, we are constructing a comprehensive adoption program for teachers and currently developing primary school contents. We do hope that the provided coaching from either practitioners or academicians in business model, monitoring and evaluation, and technology can support our plan. The networking opportunity that we expect can be from any governmental or private sectors around the globe to support our public relations and market expansion in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.

Solution Team

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