Checking in with our epA 2019 winners – a blog series: SABAQ
In this 11-part blog series, we will be checking in with our empowering people. Award (epA) 2019 winners to see what they’ve been up to since our most recent award ceremony in Cairo last July. Check out what’s new with SABAQ!
Below is an interview with Hassan Bin Rizwan, CEO and Co-founder of SABAQ.
The Pakistani education system suffers from critical gaps in quality and accessibility, with the second-highest number of out of school children in the world. Even when children are enrolled in school, they fail to learn at grade level due to poor teaching and substandard educational content. In this context, tech can serve as a powerful tool for increasing access to education and improving learning.
SABAQ’s flagship product, Muse, is a K-5 digital learning solution that makes lessons engaging and increases student performance. Muse’s extensive content library of 1500+ animated videos, characters, and interactive stories that are contextually relevant and customized to the needs of Pakistani students.
To date, SABAQ has reached 200,000 students in 2,000 schools and non-formal learning centers across Pakistan.
In 95% of the classrooms where Muse is being used, it is the first tech-based resource that the schools have adopted. In a way, Muse is transforming the classrooms across Pakistan. Our pricing model reflects our commitment to provide Muse access to the most impoverished communities. Currently, we are supporting over 90 Community Schools by offering Muse free of charge. For other non-profit schools, we continue to offer subsidized rates so software cost is never a roadblock in Muse’s integration in schools.
Our vision is to build Muse into a personalized learning platform so children in and out of school, with and without great teachers, can learn math, science and languages, and complete primary level education, achieving mastery. Hence, students in low-cost schools can use Muse to reach grade-level learning and children who have dropped out can restart their education. As smartphone penetration improves, children will have access to Muse in low-income households, reaching to millions over the next few years.
SABAQ was the first Pakistani organization to receive a GESS Award. Muse also won the Silver Prize in the Best educational app category at the Reimagine Education Awards in London. The Reimagine Award is considered the Oscars of Education. We also represented Pakistan at the Education Above All Village at the WISE Summit 2019 in Doha, the OIC’S Young Business Hub in Bahrain, and the World Business Angels Forum in Turkey.
As an entrepreneur, this journey has been challenging but extremely rewarding. The curve balls thrown at you befuddle you at first, but then force you to learn. The power of hindsight is the most valuable tool at an entrepreneur’s disposal and as an entrepreneur, I learned how important it is to experiment and make mistakes.
The WISE Summit is one of the biggest regional summits on education. On the basis of this successful pitch, we are exploring a potential project with the EAA and WISE team for a pilot to impart basic literacy and numeracy to Qatar’s out-of-school kids.
The Reimagine and GESS awards were also big achievements for us personally, as they established SABAQ’s standing in a global context. Most notably, SABAQ became the first Pakistani enterprise to receive a GESS Award.
With our successful launch on the Android Play Store, we also launched the Muse app for a new user segment – direct to user. We are now exploring a corporate sponsorship model where organizations could provide the Muse app for their employees’ kids.
- Build a Personalized Learning System
- We are building on our existing Muse app to create an adaptive learning system that will provide a customized learning experience for each student. This will empower students to learn at their own pace, greatly enhancing their educational outcomes.
- Learning models for 21st century skills
- 21st Century Students are taught from a 20th Century Curriculum – This practice is not only outdated, but also widens the gap between the skills learned and the skills needed. (World Economic Forum, New Vision for Education, 2015). Hence, other than traditional subjects, we are exploring how we can create new learning models / experiences to develop 21st century skills among kids.
- Content related to Vocational Skills
- We are also researching and exploring possibilities on the to introduce content related to vocational skills to kids who have dropped out of school in the middle grades, empowering them to earn their livelihoods.
Since our membership in epN, we have benefited a great deal from the community’s prestige and resources. The publicity and coverage that we have received as a part of the network have been a major catalyst in spreading our message across.
In the coming years, we hope we can collaborate, learn from and teach other epN members, in a quest to create a better world for all of us.
Siemens Stiftung: A big thank you, Hassan and team, for sharing what’s new and exciting at SABAQ. We look forward to fruitful collaborations with you all in the coming years.