Last month, I got an opportunity to meet the talented team behind SABAQ, which is an EdTech company with focus on both in-school and out-of-school children nationwide. SABAQ works on creating and distributing high quality digital content that can help in improving student engagement and learning within and outside the classroom. I was invited by Rabab Jafar (Communications Specialist - SABAQ) to meet with Sarah Peng (Program Specialist – SABAQ) and Kumail Ali Shareef (Art Director – SABAQ) at their office where they briefed me about their projects and the creative process involved in creating and digitizing content for pre-primary and primary education.
SABAQ started two years ago and their goal was to create digital content for out-of-school children and since then, they have done multiple projects to help local communities and schools by providing them digital content which includes, animated videos, exercises, flip books and educational games. This content is developed by a team of highly qualified academics with decades of experience in curriculum development and teaching to both pre-primary and primary level students. They have a big team of Graphic Artists and Animators along with Software Development and Operations staff to ensure that the work released by them is consistent with their set standards. I met their design and development teams, they walked me through their process and showed me some animation samples that they have already integrated in the current apps.
Let’s talk about their projects:
Most of our discussion revolved around this amazing initiative, funded by Ilm Ideas 2, which is helping more than 22,000 students in Mirpur Khaas, Tando Muhammad Khan and Tando Allayaar districts in Sindh. The project is specifically designed for out-of-school children who do not have access to government schools and can’t afford private education. SABAQ has a built an integrated model, where they partner with the local community and take them on board before setting up a learning center in their locality. These learning centers are donated by the community and a village education committee is formed that takes over the responsibility of maintaining the learning center. SABAQ’s field team picks up a local facilitator and trains him/her, they provide them with meraSABAQ tabs to start teaching children. So far, SABAQ has set up over 500 learning centers in Sindh and is working on both maintaining existing centers and opening up new centers in more remote communities.
The meraSABAQ tabs can only be used to access SABAQ’s in-built app and children can’t access anything else, this step is taken to ensure that the tabs are used for the education purpose only. One tab is shared between three students during the class timings and the facilitator is responsible for delivering content according to the pre-made schedule that is given in the guide written by the academic experts at SABAQ.
These learning centers are maintained by the small fee that is paid by the parents, which create sustainability and necessary involvement from parents in their children’s education. SABAQ has created a separate monitoring application that helps them in collecting data from their field teams and ensures accountability and transparency. Students are taught Urdu literacy and numeracy skills and the content is mainly in Urdu.
SABAQ participated and won a tender by Sindh Education Foundation for creating digital content for in-school children which included lessons in English, Mathematics and Science for primary classes. The content is in both Urdu and Sindhi and has a complete teaching framework with it, which involves, assessment mechanism, teacher support guides and videos, trainings and tablet based monitoring tools. The project is being implemented by SEF and will be active in 700 schools within Sindh later this year.
I saw the guides developed by the academic experts at SABAQ which were simple but comprehensive and very easy to understand. The digital content is really engaging and I can see the appeal it holds for both students and teachers when it comes to classroom learning.
Other than the above two, SABAQ also helps school in including digital content to their curriculum and has partnered with The Citizens Foundation, National Rural Support Program, Punjab EducationFoundation, Children’s Global Network, Pakistan Reading Project and FamilyEducational Services Foundation and has already developed and provided content for their schools and centers nationwide. The team has also developed a series of educational games that are available on app store for free, these games are fun to play and teach children various valuable skills, including, counting, basic math operations and Urdu huroof.
Due to their creative and dedicated work, SABAQ has won the title of Best Digital Innovation by Pakistan Digi Awards in 2017 and an Education Innovation Award by National Innovation Awards in 2017. SABAQ is in the process of scaling their team and has taken up the challenge to reach 100K out-of-school children in the near future. They have an active social media presence, including a YouTube channel that will show you a fraction of the content developed by their team. I will drop the links below.
I was so thrilled to meet their team and listen to their stories about the love and appreciation they receive from the people of these rural communities. The impact of their work is gigantic and it has the potential to change countless other lives. During the meeting, Sarah mentioned that almost 42% of students in their centers are girls and they also have 27 separate centers for girls in more conservative communities. As you know, I live and breathe technology and have been associated with academia for many years now, this effort has made me remarkably hopeful for the future and I think initiatives like SABAQ are changing the education landscape of Pakistan.
Connect with SABAQ: