PH educ startup touts AI-powered school management system

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Educational technology startup Edusuite is hoping that more schools will deploy its locally developed school management system that features artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics.

Edusuite co-founder and CEO Niel Dagondon (inset) during the company’s virtual press briefing

Headquartered in Muntinlupa City, Edusuite was co-founded in 2017 by local IT stalwarts Niel Dagondon and Calen Legaspi. Dagondon, who serves as Edusuite’s chief executive officer, was one of those responsible for Anino Games, the first local game development in the country acquired by PlayLab. Legaspi, the chief technology officer, co-founded Orange and Bronze Software Labs, a technology consulting firm.

In a virtual press briefing, Dagondon pointed out that what Edusuite offers is not an e-learning tool but a school management system that learning institutions need for the hybrid learning programs being rolled out amid the global health crisis.

Edusuite, he said, offers a school management system that moves operations to the cloud so schools can manage student information and grading, scheduling, online enrollment, statement of accounts, faculty load, and clearances, among others.

The company’s software analyzes data that schools from K-12 to colleges can use in their planning and operations. It utilizes smart algorithms and AI, which is said to be the first in the country.

“This year, we’ve achieved our target to help over 25,000 students across 10 schools or more. However, because of the Covid-19 situation, many more schools are in need of our solution,” Dagondon said.

Edusuite recently signed up the Sacred Heart Academy in Pasig City, University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, and Joji Ilagan Bian Career Foundation Center in Davao City and General Santos City.

Edusuite’s other clients include Ateneo High School, CIIT College of Arts and Technology, Benedictine International School, International British Academy, King’s College of the Philippines, Sumulong College of Arts and Sciences, and Batangas Eastern Colleges.

“The pandemic made us realize our school’s need to go digital,” said Patricia Mauricio, assistant directress for finance of the Sacred Heart Academy of Pasig.  “It has been an extraordinarily challenging time for us since we never relied on any management system as we were used to a face-to-face approach.”

Edusuite’s cloud computing solutions also allows students to easily pick relevant subjects as real-time availability is reflected on the school’s portal. The automated system also reduces processing time of student registration and payments of school fees.

Dagondon said the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across all sectors and Edusuite is “more than capable to meet the emerging needs of schools for efficient campus administration.”

“While we look forward to going back to what normal used to be like, schools must also transform their systems to respond better to current and future needs,” said Dagondon.

He said Edusuite clients pay based on the number of students enrolled for the year or semester, a major concern for schools that project much fewer enrollees this year for economic reasons, including students being unable to study remotely.

“Our business is affected by the reduced enrollment in our schools, but we are committed to grow with them so we charge less during hard times,” Dagondon said. “However, we see a silver lining in the current situation with more schools seeking our service after they realize the need to digitalize.”

“The system captures most of the functionalities that we are looking for in a system — from enrollment to accounting and finance, faculty loading, student clearances and AI-driven scheduling and forecasting,” said Nicole Hao Bian, COO of Joji Ilagan International Schools, which availed themselves of Edusuite’s services in June 2020.

Edusuite is one of the recipients of the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development’s Startup Grant Program in 2017. It was also secured P12 million ($235,000) in funding from seasoned investors from the Manila Angel Investors Network (MAIN). Edusuite’s clients Batangas Eastern Colleges (BEC) and Sumulong College of Arts and Sciences also invested in the startup.

Dagondon sees private educators “leading the charge in adopting technologies to improve education, and this pandemic is the perfect opportunity for them to do so.” He said Edusuite is currently only targeting private schools as the procurement process for public institutions is riddled with bureaucratic red tape.

Edusuite first prototyped the solution with CIIT College of Arts and Technology back in 2017. On June 15, 2020, CIIT became one of the first institutions to commence its term through a purely online setting.

The school has fully utilized the enrollment planning system, which helped its administration optimize and manage the enlistment, enrollment, and advising processes. More importantly, CIIT shifted transactions to off-campus online payment channels to make it more convenient for their registrar and key stakeholders.

“We constantly evaluate our product — week after week, release after release — while also taking in recommendations from our clients,” said Dagondon, who is also one of the founders CIIT. “Being a naturally agile company, our work is never done as each release makes our product better to accommodate different use cases.”

As Edusuite’s automation enables schools to operate more efficiently even with less staff, the company sees itself working with more schools not only in the country, but also “in other emerging markets that have similar issues as the Philippines.”

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