Global innovation lab to help bank associate fulfill dream of building trust in developing countries' education systems

Mr Sophearin Phann wants to create a financing model that helps fund public education in third world countries.
Mr Sophearin Phann wants to create a financing model that helps fund public education in third world countries.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Cambodian Sophearin Phann knows just how hard it is to win a university scholarship to study in Singapore so he is determined to help smooth the way ahead for other aspiring youngsters.

There was certainly no let-up for Mr Phann when he was a high school student in Kandal, a southeastern province in Cambodia.

He had to sit for two tests and attend an interview to try to secure that precious scholarship but he felt thought that a better quality education was worth the effort.

His efforts paid off handsomely.

"Studying in Nanyang Technological University was a life-changing experience," said Mr Phann, 29, who graduated with a major in applied physics and minors in economics and mathematics in 2012.

He now wants to pay it forward. The senior associate at DBS will be attending this year's Unleash, a global innovation lab that starts on Wednesday (May 30).

The eight-day event has attracted about 1,000 participants from more than 100 countries to work on how to make the world more sustainable.

Mr Phann wants to create a financing model that helps fund public education in third world countries.

Access to quality education is the first step to creating a first world nation, he noted, adding that he will study previous models to understand how they can be improved.

"I want to study how we can consolidate funds from all over the world, in the public, private and non-government sectors, to improve the quality of education."

Mr Phann heard of Unleash through an internal email early in the year and thought that it was a chance to give back the opportunity he had been awarded.

He hopes Unleash will allow him to learn from other participants who share his goals: "It's a chance to be part of a really diverse network.

"Through the innovation lab, I want to come up with something concrete that helps gain faith in public school systems in the third world."