ETU School

Project Representative
Yinuo Li
Creation Date: 2016
Headquarters: Beijing, China
Geographical Reach: Worldwide
Nature and number of beneficiaries: 20,000+ direct beneficiaries worldwide

ETU School

About the Project

ETU Education brings together people from different walks of life who want a different and better education – one that puts schools back to the centre of community, one that build on the strength and developments outside the school walls, and one that is also aimed at pushing forward education equity through technology platforms.
ETU has “one root” and many extended and connected platforms. The “root” is ETU School, which is a physical school that started with 35 students in year one aged 5-8 in Beijing in year 1, and is growing to 100 students in Beijing and Guangzhou from K-3 in year 2. ETU School is dedicated to combining the leading pedagogy from the world with China’s culturally-rich curriculum to offer a personalized education that tap into and cultivate the intrinsic motivations of the children. In this way, the school hopes to cultivate globally competent citizens that also have deep and authentic understanding of China, in an increasingly connected world.
ETU is beyond being a school. It aims to drive changes in today’s education ecosystem by breaking down walls between education and society, enabled by its technology platform that not only supports the school, but also enables online communities with more than 20,000 registered users ranging from parents and education innovators. ETU is also dedicated to addressing education inequality by meeting the education needs in poverty-stricken rural China with the social will and capital mobilized and harnessed by ETU’s online communities and networks.  

Context and Issue

At the centre of ETU Education is ETU School, which was founded within 170 days following the publication of an article by Yinuo Li, who’s social social media account has over 700K followers. The article, which called out system issues in today’s education system, instantly stroke a chord among tens of thousands of parents and education innovators and went viral online. A year later, much of what Yinuo described in the article as innovative solution to tackle those problems became reality in ETU School.

There are many connected issues ETU sees in today’s education.

1. Anxiety: the major “driver” of education “industry”
With the rapid changes in today’s society, there is increasing anxiety among parents around what is the good or best education, and how  to best prepare kids for the future. In both China, and around the world, business initiatives that have made a fortune in education all follow a similar, if not the same, business model, that is to identify and capitalize on the anxiety of parents.

2. Stressed teachers and a lack of consistent, high-quality professional development support for teachers
According to a survey conducted by in 2016, more than 70% of the surveyed 420,000 teachers across China said they wouldn’t let their children to be teachers in the future. Behind this shocking finding is the reality that while people still regard teacher as a highly-respected profession, there is no solution that can support teacher’s holistic professional development at scale.

3. Isolated schools
Schools are very much “behind the walls”, on the one hand, it means that social resources cannot be effectively connected to schools; on the other hand, children can only “learn” from teachers and text books, that is much often removed from real-world issues, which in the end, leads to the disconnect between today’s education system and social demand.

4. Worsening education inequality
While there is a rise of a variety of innovative and international schools as a supplementary to public schools in China’s top and high-tier cities, there are still a huge army of children in china’s poverty-stricken areas who don’t have the chance to enjoy good education.  

5. Technology’s distance from the school system
Most technology usage in schools is far from integrated or holistically adapted to the education experience of learners or teachers.

Solution and Impact

ETU creates a unique system to address issues in today’s education problems.  ETU’s founding team combines the expertise of three kinds of people: Seasoned education practitioners and innovators, professional management executives from global leading multinational firms including McKinsey, Uber, Novo Nordisk, Google, JP Morgan, World Bank and Wall Street Journal, and an experienced IT team with 40+ product managers and engineers.

The solution is also a multi-facet one. First, ETU school offers an authentic immersive bilingual (English/Chinese) and personalized learning experience. In addition, it aims to inspire children by activating, protecting and promoting intrinsic motivation of children, who will become self-driven and life-long learners.

Second, ETU school combines professional development philosophy and practice from the business world with the needs of the teaching profession, to create a competence and professional development model for “teachers as leaders”. Meanwhile, it also introduces management capacity from the private sector to school operations management, significantly increasing school’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Third, ETU has developed an IT platform (ETU App) that supports the holistic needs of the school system: curriculum, school management, teachers’ professional development, parent–school communication, etc.

Fourth, ETU has developed an IT-based platform for online communities called Magnet that is now home to a few major communities including ETU Lifelong Learners (3,000 members, detailed below) and ETU Volunteers (9,000+ members and 69+ groups in hope of building ETU school in their own cities worldwide), ETU’s parent school community (6600+ members) and ETU’s philanthropy community (600+ members including village teachers, NGOs and volunteers). Through these communities ETU is re-organizing social resources for education. For instance, scientists and educators support the STEAM curriculum development. Volunteers assist rural school teachers, and family education experts offer knowledge and tips in terms of how to relieve parents’ anxiety over education and create a favorable family environment for our children.

The ETU app will not only serve the needs of ETU School, but other schools and education institutions. Meanwhile, ETU plans to provide its IT platform and app for free for 100 rural teachers in regions where professional development support for teachers is scarce and where children have little communication with their parents who are migrant workers in cities. In this way, ETU can contribute to the country’s efforts for education equality. So far, ETU App is already being used in rural schools and connecting migrant workers with their left-behind children. ETU is also working with NGOs to make its technology available to more rural schools.

Future Developments

Starting with a pilot program, ETU has grown to have 100 students, and opening one campus in Guangzhong in 2017 since it was founded in 2016. Within 3 years the tuition should be able to sustain the schools financially. ETU’s goal is to support a network of micro-schools.

In addition, ETU is also planning to support offline community education centers with its IT platform. 4 summer camp programs have been piloted in the summer of 2017 in Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen and Houston in the US.

ETU is entering agreement with Beijing Education Academy which is responsible for training 200K public school teachers in Beijing. ETU plans to provide its teacher training curriculum to public school teachers, this will enlarge the impact of the ETU's effort in supporting professional development for teachers throughout China and also generate income for ETU through government service procurement.

The goal of ETU is to continuously drive changes in the education ecosystem through social innovation, and more specifically, the gathering and reorganization of social resources for a shared goal of education innovation.

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