KPMG Insider Alumni Interview – Connecting China’s Children

Issue 10, 2014-12-3

KPMG Photo

Jacky Chu, an ex-KPMG manager, was inspired by KPMG China’s community involvement. In this interview, he shares how he has carried on this important work, and his hope to create a better world one school at a time through projects like ‘Pad for Hope’. -- By Wahid Lui

Can you tell us a bit about your history with KPMG?

After working in management consulting, I joined KPMG in 2005 when the firm was setting up a new business line, BPS. I later transferred to T&R in
2007, before leaving the firm in 2011 to explore new opportunities at a Japanese venture capital firm.

 

What community work were you involved in before ‘Pad for Hope’?

My involvement started with activities organised by KPMG China’s CSR department, which included helping migrant workers and setting up KPMG-sponsored schools in Gansu. Later, I became even more involved when I joined the CSR board as a Social and Environmental Action Team (SEAT) member (SEAT is a group that helps drive KPMG China’s employee involvement programme). KPMG truly nurtured my interest in helping the community and inspired me to initiate projects such as Pad for Hope (PFH).

 

What is PFH and what was the inspiration behind the initiative?

The 21st century is dominated by the web and easy access to information, but there is an emerging problem – the widening gap between rural areas and cities in terms of accessibility to information technology. This disparity is further exacerbated by the uneven distribution of educational resources and the rising number of migrant parents leaving their kids behind so they can look for jobs in the city.

PFH hopes to reduce this disparity.

In addition to providing internet access to schools in rural and mountainous regions in China, we also provide them with the hardware to access this newly gained information in the form of iPads – hence the name of the programme. The iPads come with a whole suite of educational applications and materials to further facilitate self-learning in regions where there is often a shortage of teachers and resources are limited.

The beauty of the programme is that we make use of e-waste – i.e. older hardware that people are trading in for newer models. These products, which are perfectly functional, are donated to children who would otherwise have no access to such technology. With online education booming in China over the past two to three years, this programme comes at a good time to harness new tools to address the imbalance in teaching resources.

 

What was the greatest challenge you faced when implementing this programme?

Our biggest challenge was communication. It was very hard to understand what schools needed because they did not understand the technology themselves. It was not until we were on-site that we discovered that despite the government’s ‘village internet initiative (村村通)’, some schools in the mountains did not have access to 3G networks. We needed to negotiate with local providers to gain such connectivity, as most of
our hardware depended on it.

It was also a problem finding dedicated teachers in schools since many of them naturally wanted to build careers in the cities. This is why iPads are a good tool here since pupils can learn independently on these platforms with little or no guidance.

 

In May, you joined our CSR mission to the KPMG Fang Niu Chang Hope Primary School to donate iPads and set up a Wi-Fi network. You also taught the teachers and students how to use this technology. What was the most memorable part of this trip?

What struck us most was the children’s discipline. They also had an ingrained respect for teachers, possibly because teachers provide their window to the outside world.

We thought the kids would need more time to learn how to use the iPads, but that was not the case at all. They picked up on how to work them very quickly, which was promising.

 

When will you consider this mission to be ‘accomplished’? Do you have any ultimate goals you hope to achieve?

The project is still in its infancy. Although we emphasise independent learning, we still need teachers to guide kids and nurture their self-study skills. Our next phase will be to find teachers who are technologically savvy enough to be those guides. Later down the road, we hope to set up an online teaching centre in Shanghai to deliver real-time online classes that provide rural communities with a more comprehensive curriculum.
What advice do you have for corporations and individuals who want to get involved in community work?

My experience with crowdfunding campaigns showed me that a lot of people in Hong Kong and China have the resources and want to help with various issues – they just do not know who to trust.

I think corporations should set up dedicated CSR departments, much like the one at KPMG China, to coordinate efforts and get people involved. It is often difficult to reach those in need, but company programmes and initiatives can remove such barriers.

You should not be afraid to take part in or start your own initiatives. Your efforts, however small, do make a difference, and like the butterfly effect, can sometimes spark change beyond your wildest imagination.
For info on Pad for Hope:
http://padforhope.com, or http://facebook.com/padforhope.
Want to help?

To donate an iPad or help with the project, email Jacky at jacky@padforhope.com

云南支教志愿者分享(KDC) by Edward

2014-07-31 毕马威中国企业社会责任及多元文化

两趟飞机,5小时车程,我们已经是第五批志愿者了。

教学

学校的硬件条件还是比较有限的,没有投影仪,对我的影响比预想的大,很多要讲的东西都没法向同学们展示清楚。虽然这次有两位同事带去了两台,但依然觉得不够用,而板书的困难程度也远超自己的想象。
对于四年级的同学来说,有些课程可能太过抽象,比如公民教育,在大山深处的同学们,对这方面根本没有概念,更重要的是,在身边并没有可以实践的机会。而其中提及的责任与义务,相比之下,山里的同学们比我们城里人更早的承担起了家里的责任,如上批同事提及的,同学们的指甲都很黑,那是帮家里剥核桃染的。
虽然很多同学家里都有电视,但山里信息的闭塞还是超出了我的想象,很多同学甚至不知道祖国的首都是北京。去年9月的志愿者同事们已经教过的五大洋七大洲,他们由于平时的生活远离这些知识,也都忘记了。
对于同学们来说,最大的问题,源于闭塞。他们最缺乏,是体验。各种知识点,对四年级的同学,还是太过抽象,哪怕是已经用视频展示过了,还是没法理解。本次我给每人带去了需自己拼装的动力滑翔机模型,在拼好放飞之后,再讲飞机原理,同学们理解起来便快得多。有的同学甚至尝试自己去改进自己的模型并成功地飞得更远!
本次支教,前KPMG同事Jacky Chu还带来了19台iPad,并协助配置网络,这是非常非常有意义的!因为它直接改善了同学们最大的限制,破除了闭塞和提供了极佳的体验。出乎我们的预料,同学们基本不用教,就可以自己找到iPad的使用方法并开始各种游戏,从第一次拿到iPad到成功的打过「愤怒鸟」游戏第一关,不超过5分钟。其学习速度之快,完全比城市里的同学逊色!同学们使用iPad所获得的对高科技产品和信息技术的体验,将更能激发他们对知识对外面世界的好奇。

学校生活

有过半的同学都住校,因为家里住得远,很多同学回家要走两三个小时的山路。每日清晨,我们志愿者们还窝在被窝里不愿起床时,同学们已经在打扫校园并自觉开始早读。印象最深的是,同学们早读时,真是放声朗诵,声音之大震得我耳朵都疼了。自己十几年的学生生涯,怕是从未如此认真早读过,惭愧。
三餐是两位阿姨烧的,但有很多同学在厨房帮忙打下手,这也是我意料之外的。必须要提的是,早餐的米线,奇赞无比,虽然前一批的同事早就打过招呼了,但真的吃到嘴里时,真是“那个滋味真的好到没办法形容!”(Naomi语)。
除了学习,同学们最大的乐趣就是玩。山里场地有限,体育设施比较缺乏,同学们的爱好也就出奇的一致了,男生都喜欢篮球,女生都喜欢跳绳。但实际上同学们课余还是很丰富多彩的。
课间、放学同学们都会拉我们一起玩,跳大绳,羽毛球,丢手绢,老鹰捉小鸡,跳皮筋,甚至打陀螺。学校地处2000米以上高原,氧气较平原稀薄许多,我们陪同学们玩老鹰捉小鸡,跑跑跳跳十几分钟便已没了力气,但看着同学们期待的眼神,只好坚持着陪玩到底。
对于很多同事来说,离开校园已经一段时间了,重回上下铺的宿舍,也是一段难得的体验。雨季前期,山里的蚊虫自然不少,因此也闹出好多笑话。

同事们

由于公司每学期都会派志愿者前往支教,同学们没有太多意外,都是已知的等待。反而是众志愿者们,一路惊喜连连。坐飞机无数次飞越过的崇山峻岭,恐怕这是第一次如此深入地行走在其间,数小时蜿蜒的山路,壮丽的彩虹,天真质朴的笑脸,城市里自然也是见不到的。
与同事们的相处,也收获颇丰。不同所,不同级别,在山里,大家都是一群快乐的老师。大家合作无间,也相互学习,听着不同的故事,分享着彼此不同的人生。
随着经济的发展,山里的情况也在不断改善。公路修好了,自来水通了,居民们也买了各种小车货车,网络也已进入校园。可以说,放牛场村毕马威苗圃希望小学是这片村子最好的建筑,有最好的设施。好像同学们跟城里的相比,并不缺少什么特别的物质产品。
但是信息的闭塞,思维的滞后,很难在三天半的时间得到改变,也不是花了钱就能迅速改善的。短暂的支教引出了我们更多的问题:对同学们日后的发展以及人生,我们能给予更多的支持么?深入体验后,才清楚一系列的问题不是纸上谈兵,支教活动并不仅仅是那短暂的三天半,很多很多的问题,需要我们回到城市慢慢思考。
一周的支教任务,无论是与同学们相处还是与同事们的配合,自己感觉收获巨大。山里师生们的纯真质朴,同事们的热情友善,真的让自己觉得与获得的收获相比,自己的付出,是那么的渺小。
是谁在支教谁?我不由得发出这样的疑问。