EDUCATION IS…Corrin Varady
Welcome to Hello World’s interview series showcasing the work of individuals and organisations that are championing education and helping marginalised communities to shape their own future.
EDUCATION IS… the chance to change your future
Dr Corrin Varady founded the global EdTech company, IDEA Digital Education. IDEA has 127 team members across 8 countries in Australia, Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. The IDEA transformation program covers over 1800 curriculum topics, 45,000 animations, videos and interactive activities as well as over 10,000 assessments. IDEA is a global Microsoft Gold IP Co-Sell Education partner.
In 2019 IDEA won the United Kingdom’s Department of Digital, Culture and Sport Global Education Start Up Award for South Africa. It was also selected by Stanford University as one of the Stanford Seed Transformation businesses and by Agence Française De Développement. IDEA won the Social Impact award from Naspers and AppsAfrica and was Finalist for the ‘Learning Platform of the Year Award 2019’. That same year Corrin was the Chairperson of the Education Innovation Summit in South Africa, and at the Asian Conference for Education in Tokyo he presented his latest research on “Learning, Design and Universality: The Tradeoff Between Access and Outcomes in Digital Education Transformation.”
In 2007, Corrin established the World Youth Education Trust (UK, Tanzania and Australia) to support the education of politically marginalized students across East Africa and where his most significant work focused on the reintegration of child soldiers into education and leadership programs. In 2014, Corrin was featured in the international documentary, “The Road to Freedom Peak” a journey that followed himself and a former child soldier as they rode bicycles across Uganda questioning support for post-conflict communities. The documentary was premiered by Fox Australia and Netflix globally with critical acclaim.
If you could write on your own school report, what comments would you make?
The benefit of education is in learning from the process, not just from the subject-matter. Your journey is just beginning, take risks, learn that life is about personal bests and remember it is all about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
What did you dream of becoming as a child and what obstacles got in your way?
I always wanted to be an environmental activist. I was inspired by Greenpeace and the radical ways it continued to elevate the cause of conservation and the environment. I learnt very quickly that getting society’s attention, especially where global social matters were concerned, was not something that could be done subtly. But very little obstructed me from pursuing whatever I wanted to. I was (and am still) very privileged to have a family that supports any path I chose and an education that opened me up to limitless opportunities. I had never planned on working in education but it was because I quickly recognised that the majority of the world’s youth does not have these same opportunities, that I wanted to make whatever contribution I could.
You spent time teaching child soldiers in East Africa – what lessons did this experience teach you?
‘Never give up.’ The perseverance and resilience of the former child soldiers of northern Uganda has been inspiring, reminding me always that even faced with the most extreme adversity, human beings can find some measure of peace and happiness if collectively supported to do that.