Our digital content has so far successfully reached 75,000 children in formal and non-formal school settings in Pakistan. Click below to read what Department for International Development (DFID), UK had to say about SABAQ’s impact.
Over 22.6 million children in Pakistan are still out-of-school.
Even the entire population of Karachi is less than that.
If Pakistan hopes to defeat this monstrous educational crisis while we are well and alive, we will have to take matters into our own hands. Traditionally, formal education has always been considered as the more streamlined and important, if not the only, method of education. However, in cases like ours, it is extremely important to not discount the growing role that non-formal education continues to play.
Non-formal education includes all educational activity that takes places outside of a structured, formal learning system. Where public and private schools fall under formal education, all other avenues of learning without formal certification, fall under non-formal schooling. Non-formal serves people who have limited access to formal education such as children in villages who might not have proper resources, with accelerated learning. It has shown astonishing results in a vast range of countries from the likes of Bangladesh and Ghana to Japan and Turkey. According to the Chairperson of National Commission for Human Development, Razina Alam Khan, Pakistan can hope to achieve 90% literacy and 100% enrollment rate, only if we fully embrace non-formal education.
For the last 3 years, we at SABAQ, have been working to decrease illiteracy in Pakistan by providing digital solutions to out-of-school children in marginalized and underprivileged villages of Sindh to teach them basic numeracy skills and Urdu literacy.
Our method of educating the country’s youth has diverse aspects, some of which are:
We have upwards of 500 SABAQ Centers, where children come to learn Urdu and mathematics. People of a given village or community provide the space and sustainability to the SABAQ Centers.
Every 3 students share the SABAQ Tab between them, which is chock-full of fun learning materials with engaging graphics and relevant practice tests.
After an in-depth training, a Facilitator is assigned to each SABAQ Center to manage its students and provide support, as and when needed.
This system has proved to be a huge success in teaching children, but there are some aspects of well-rounded growth and development that just cannot be taught through technology. How to hold a pencil, for instance; or how hard to grip it if you want to write. Most of us take this knowledge for granted, forgetting that we all started from somewhere, too. The only difference is, those avenues just aren’t available for these children. Studies show that touch and sight aren’t necessarily interconnected, so both the senses need to be stimulated for timely growth and development in children. When done well, it can provide an excellent foundation for developed fine-motor skills. Otherwise, it leads to problems of poor self-esteem and hampers actual life skills. Reading, on the other hand, helps children develop their imaginations and improve their focusing and concentration abilities.
Since the SABAQ Tab is filled with fun visuals, students haven’t been afforded the opportunity to read stories on traditional printed media or develop the sort of critical thinking that application of theoretical concepts provides. Given the level of complexity that ensures healthy development, we want to help kids learn their Huroof-e-Tahajji and numbers in an engaging and interactive way, but at the same time, we also want to help them develop their capacity to think strategically and approach problems with a “Can do!” mindset. To further this cause, we want to provide all SABAQ Centers with an Educational Kit packed with writing supplies, books and learning-through-play resources to fulfil the tactile, visual and cognitive requirements of growing children.
In order to finance the efficient development of children on our 500+ Centers, we have paired with an online funding organization called Global Giving that helps NGOs all over the world raise money for socially beneficial causes. With the help of this website – and you! – we hope to provide a more holistic education to kids, to help them grow and progress in life. The campaign started on the 11th of June, and will run until the 30th of June.
Help us teach these children the essential skills necessary for a full and happy development!
Click here to donate to this cause.
SABAQ recently participated in Global Education & Skills Forum 2018 conference in Dubai and words cannot even begin to describe the grandeur of the event and, brilliance and ingenuity of the participating projects. But what got us full of the joys of spring was SABAQ’s nomination as one of the Top 40 EdTech startups from across the world! We were the only program from Pakistan, and we couldn’t be more proud to have represented our country at GESF 2018!
This year the Varkey Foundation launched the first ‘Next Billion’ Ed-Tech prize to award an innovative and promising technology which will have a far-reaching impact on education in low income communities and developing countries.
This new prize category will recognize and promote the winning EdTech startup for its inventiveness to improve learning and making education accessible in parts of the world where there is limited access to good quality teaching.
SABAQ presented it’s innovative Learning Centres model for the prize –A model that not only delivers high-quality learning using technology in a sustainable way, it also engages and empowers community members. And while SABAQ did not win the prize, we certainly did leave our mark on the judges and participants.
At the conference as we shifted gears between panel discussions and roundtable sessions, this eloquent and insightful comment really got us thinking, ‘I see students in my classroom with their cell phones. I still see that a quality education is required to make the most of this cheap widespread technology.’ Said Marj Brown, Varkey Teacher Ambassador, and we couldn’t agree more.
With this in mind, SABAQ is already leveraging the use of low-cost tablets to provide access to quality education in over 500 SABAQ centers and 222 PEF schools in Sindh and Punjab. According to statistics, almost 40 million people in Pakistan are currently using smartphones and with such heavy penetration of cellular gadgets, leveraging cheap technology to deliver quality education can be used to make the most out of this widespread technology.
Overall, the event was meticulously planned, from giddy-up to whoa! SABAQ’s participation in this event made us consciously aware of the incredible and unique ways people around the world are coming up with to make education accessible. As a program, SABAQ has come a long way and yet, there is so much more left to be done. Check out the highlights of the event by clicking here.
Updates from the field often mean having yet another problem to solve. Turns out, not all problems are as bad as they are chalked out to be.
What are they, you might ask? There’s one, in particular, that’s throwing our facilitators in a tizzy. Simply put, the students will not leave. High on the excitement and keen to learn more, students in the first session often are seen not leaving or doing so begrudgingly.
‘How are we supposed to tell a child to go when all he wants to do is learn?’ -Facilitator , SABAQ
And it’s not just them who want to take over classrooms. While students are checked against the enrollment lists, little ones are known to have sneakily slipped by. When asked what her little brother was doing in class, knowing full well that younger siblings were not allowed, Maya indignantly replied, ‘I didn’t even know he followed me until he was spotted! He can’t stop talking about how much he wants to learn and got a little impatient I think!’
To sort this one out, SABAQ Centers remain open after regular classes are done where Facilitators can revise the day’s lesson with weaker students, or teach new subjects and even carry out different activities making them a community center of sorts.
And sometimes, it’s not just students you find lurking. Members of our Village Education Committees are often found sitting outside during a class to ensure that attendance is up to par and that Facilitators are following all the procedures set. Despite set schedules for observations, members put in extra time, to make sure that SABAQ Centers are running in top form. And despite a few grumbles here and there about the VEC running a tight ship, it’s also enabled a more a seamlessly run SABAQ Center.
Despite what may come, we’re taking it all in stride and so far, it’s working.
Field Notes is a blog series that delves into the implementation, monitoring and evaluation side of SABAQ. In this post, we talk about how much we’ve come to rely on our Village Education Committees.
If you think setting up a SABAQ Centre is challenging, a bigger challenge is ensuring that these Centres remain operational in the coming years. While financial sustainability is always on top of that list, there’s always a need to ensure that SABAQ Centres are running in top form.
If there’s one thing we can count on to help us foster sustainability, it’s the indomitable spirit and support of the communities that we work with. Not only have they generously donated spaces where SABAQ Centres are established, they’re enthusiastic volunteers for our Village Education Committees who deal with management and oversight at a grass-roots level. Each member puts in time and effort, coordinating schedules so that they observe a SABAQ Centre at least once a week, have monthly sessions with Facilitators, maintain student attendance and enrollment and make detailed reports that only go on to strengthen its operations.
The VECs are pitching in to help maintain financial sustainability. One of the ways the original SABAQ model was modified was by including contribution, mainly to account for the Facilitator’s salaries, where students are charged a monthly tuition fee. The VECs are responsible for collection and maintaining a proper record. After budgeting for salaries, the VECs also make recommendations for how to best use the remaining funds like buying supplies for students.
To them, however, it is all about giving children a chance at getting the best learning experience. That and the joy of seeing them happy. At the SABAQ Centre in Muhammed Soomaar Solangi, the first thing that hits you are the vivid parrot green uniforms that students are dressed in. Students enrolled in SABAQ Centres don’t really have a uniform. The VEC in-charge pitched in from their own personal funds to get them made. Maryam, the VEC chairwoman, championed the idea of uniforms so that the students felt like they were a part of an army, ‘I thought dressed alike, they would feel together. On a mission to change their lives. Its delightful to see them dressed alike, learning. But their happiness is so much more and at the end, that that’s what it’s all about.’
The future is female and we’re here for it! Along with creating access to quality primary education for children currently out of school, SABAQ is also helping to fight gender disparity prevalent in the communities our SABAQ Centers are running in.
Over 40% of the 21,000 students enrolled in our non-formal learning centers are female. To strengthen these numbers, SABAQ is also opening up SABAQ Centers exclusively for female students with 24 already up and running.
With SABAQ wanting to extend its impact to include a wider range of women in a sustainable way, it is delighted to be a part of SPRING Accelerator’s 4th cohort! SABAQ along with 19 other organizations across South Asia will work with outstanding human-centered design experts from fuseproject and a SPRING helmed consortium to develop sustainable solutions that empower adolescent girls aged 10-19 putting them on a path to becoming strong and confident women and leaders.
There’s definitely a spring in SABAQ’s step and we’re beyond delighted to be working with SPRING to take SABAQ to new heights!
Field Notes is a blog series that delves into the implementation, monitoring and evaluation side of SABAQ. This post examines how SABAQ Centers are helping fight gender disparity in the communities they operate in.
For many women and young girls, having a SABAQ Center in their village has given them a first they’ve been longing for.
Meera wanted to go to school since she learnt what a school was. It’s not even that there wasn’t a school in the vicinity of Meera’s village, it was just that it was almost 4 km away and deemed too dangerous by her parents for their young daughter to walk to. ‘I couldn’t help feeling jealous when I saw my cousin brother go to school while I would have done just about anything to!’ Now, Meera is one of the most enthusiastic learners at a SABAQ Center in Khuwaja Stop, Tando Allahyar.
Currently, 40% of the students that study at SABAQ Centers are female. There are also 24 SABAQ Centers exclusively for female students that has definitely helped fight the gender disparity that is rampant in the areas SABAQ operates.
Likewise, SABAQ Centers are run by both male and female community members in line with SABAQ’s policy of an equal opportunities employer. For some women in the communities we work, it is a chance to earn a living for the first time in their lives, something that they are very enthusiastic to embrace. For now, 110 women are managing SABAQ Centers, which for some is nothing short of a dream.
Shahida, who teaches at a SABAQ Center in Muhammed Shah Bukhari, it is something that she has been waiting for. ‘I was one of the few in my village who managed to complete my education up to grade 8. I’ve been looking to put it to good use and earn from it. But more importantly, to give the children in this village a chance that I once had. And now I can and couldn’t be happier or prouder about it.’
We’ve been at the digital flipbook game for quite a while so we thought we’d mix it up a bit by creating a gamebook which acts as interactive flipbook that primarily aims to increase student engagement. Students can explore more aspects of a scenario by having the freedom to choose elements leading to a more interactive learning experience and the autonomy to fully explore all the possibilities that are available to them.
After being in development for 2 months, we give you Desert Adventure, which is designed to teach students of grades 3 to 4 all about the desert through its focal character Rudy, a silly and lovable camel with a penchant for hats. They can explore through the desert to discover fun facts while getting creative while doing so with Rudy.
Each element was coded, with detailed illustrations to explain different science concepts regarding the desert making it a truly collaborative effort between the Academic, Production and Tech teams.
Desert Adventure is currently available to download here. Let us
In 2017, we pledged to open up 500 SABAQ Centers where 20,000 children who had never stepped inside a school would have a chance to learn. By the end of the year, we beat our own target, opening up 545 SABAQ Centers that are attended by 21,800 students across Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammed Khan and Mirpurkhas.
After experimenting and extensive field research, we developed a model that delivers high quality learning using technology in a sustainable way that engages and empowers community members.
The SABAQ model also places high importance on community engagement that in turn leads to community contribution and ownership of the SABAQ Centers that are opened up. This ensures both operational and financial sustainability.
We started out SABAQ Centers focusing on providing primary level education to remedy the alarming number of out-of-school children that we observed in these areas. Not only were we able to do that, we helped generate employment by training natives to become facilitators that manage and teach at SABAQ Centers. Village Education Committees were also formed that brought together members to take up management and oversight as well as ensure financial sustainability. These members are volunteers, who look after SABAQ Center operations including keeping track of facilitator and student attendance as well as preventing drop-outs.
We’re gearing up for the SABAQ 100K Challenge and we’re going to be needing your help. Watch this space for more details!
If you still haven’t signed up for Patari’s Haftanama, you’re truly missing out. Patari is perhaps Pakistan’s most well-known (and largest) music streaming service and the local answer to the hugely popular Spotify and Soundcloud, housing over 20,000 songs by 600 Pakistani artists.
In the mood for something particular? Chances are, you will find it on Patari. Patari is home to impressive compilations from dholki songs, to your favorite milli naghmein. There’s even a compilation for kids, so we thought to ourselves, ‘Hmm, we make songs as a creative route to achieving learning objectives and we love catching people absentmindedly humming our songs. So, why not feature them on Patari and have more kids learn through our songs?’
Well here we are, with a SABAQ favorite, ‘Do Chashmi Hai’, on Patari that is as big of a hit at the Patari offices as it was at SABAQ HQ when it first came out. Go check out the compilation Kids Songs for SABAQ’s greatest hits released every Thursday and let us know what you think!