In the face of classroom demolitions, natural disasters, and low school retention rates, two Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) alumni are making a difference by educating hundreds of children in Pakistan. Their startup, Orenda, uses cartoons and digital streaming technology to bring school curriculums to four and five year old children living in some of the country’s most at-risk areas.
Using relatable cartoon characters living in an imaginary place called ‘Taleemabad’ (Urdu for ‘Education City’) and complementary work books, co-founders Haroon Yasin (SFS ’15) and Ahwaz Akhtar (SFS ’16) are working to make learning fun and engaging for children who are at risk of dropping out of school.
Using data monitoring technology, the Orenda team is able to observe the performance of its students in real time and gauge their impact on dropout rates. Recently, they launched their program in eight low-performing schools in three districts across Pakistan and found that all the districts showed improved test scores. One district’s results even increased by 58% thanks to their engagement with the program.
Thanks to a crowd funding campaign last year, Orenda was able to expand to reach over 540 students in the country and surpassed their goal of 500 students. They also grew their team from five to 13 members, and produced and distributed around 3,000 Taleemabad text books. The books, which were designed to work in conjunction with the cartoons, were given to nursery school students in underprivileged areas to aid their learning.
Building on the success of their work last year, a new campaign seeks to help the project reach students who have no access to formal education. These students either dropped out of school early or never enrolled, and many have been displaced due to floods, earthquakes and war.
More information about the expansion campaign and details of the program are available on Orenda’s Facebook page and website http://www.orendaproject.org/
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