Education, An Awakening by Ilm Ideas 2

Ilm Ideas 2 focuses on improving the condition of the supply and demand of education in Pakistan. It is a 4 year program that runs locally and is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DIFD) and is managed by Cambridge Education. The intent of this program is to develop and support innovative educational establishments to ensure the demand of education in Pakistan is being met. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things it ensures that the youth of Pakistan is well-endowed and literate.

The program itself focuses on 3 primary strands:

  1. It supports startups establish their business ideas that work towards improving the quality of education. This is where the National Incubation Center at LUMS Lahore steps in and scouts for startups working under the said category.
  2. Once that has been accomplished, IIM2 may provide them with grant funding to ensure the outcomes of the business plans are being met effectively.
  3. Most importantly, the program ensures that new and innovative ideas are being continuously supported even after the program ends.

In order to accomplish the three strands meritoriously and to guarantee plausible improvement in the education system of the country, NIC LUMS plays a pivotal role.

How NIC Scouts for Promising Startups

NIC is an established incubator in Lahore and holds one of the strongest networks of investors, education mentors, alumni network, facilities and other useful amenities. The establishment is already responsible for incubating several new and innovative education institutions. Under the funding of ILM2, NIC set out to look for visionaries in the education sector that desired to potentially change the face of education in Pakistan.

At the same time, NIC also believes in catering to the education facilities often found at the bottom of the pyramid. Under this approach, supported by the likes of Akhuwat and other similar foundations, NIC took over approximately 20 education micro entrepreneurs last year under a different program, training youth from low income communities, out of which 15 ran their own schools. NIC is a firm believer of balance, equity and diversity. The micro-entrepreneurs taken under the guidance were located in areas ranging from Bedian Road, Walton, Cantt, Mughalpura, Nishat Colony, Sadar, Manalwala, Kotlakhpat and others.

Inspired and motivated by a similar approach, higher in the pyramid of social hierarchy, under the funding of ILM 2, NIC was able to incubate approximately more than 10 educational-technology (ed-tech) companies as well. The most promising ones amongst them were Grassroots, Edkasa and BigBytes.

BigBytes is a group of Technology Educationists. The startup belongs to the current cohort of incubated businesses at NIC Lahore. The incentive of this establishment is to teach people how to make use of the tools of technology, and their creative faculties to solve real-life problems. The business was initiated by a community of tech enthusiasts through collaborative, hands-on learning. Their aim was to introduce robotics and the latest technologies in the schools of Pakistan by conducting workshops and establishing the model of a tech-focused makerspace.

Grassroots Consultants provides management consultancy services, as well as edTec solutions in the education sector. One of the solutions they developed and deployed is “School Service Quality Management” program.  Through this solution they are able to obtain monthly feedback from a sizable sample of each school’s parent community on how satisfied they are with the education services being delivered and the performance in light of specified performance indicators.

The received information is then digitally captured into a designed Education Service Score Card and then circulated to School Heads and their Management. This allows them to keep track of the progress of each school through close monitoring. The technology and the processes used are relatively low costing, more so, they are customizable and highly effective. Grassroots is currently working on deploying similar solutions at a lower cost for public schools as well.

EDKASA – Our Success Story

The founders of this business Annum Sadiq and Fahad Tanveer displayed immense skill, talent and experience in their respective fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amongst the plethora of accomplishments under the ILM2 program, the one greatest success story is EDKASA. This business aims to increase access to qualitative secondary education by making available top notch teachers across the country through a collaborative online learning platform. The platform allows live, cooperative and interactive classes connecting one teacher to approximately 100 students at a time. Using the EDKASA Direct product, students from anywhere in the country can join the platform just as long as they have access to the internet. Autonomously, EDKASA aspires to make available its ‘teacher stream’ to its own franchisees. The incentive behind this is to target those students who cannot directly connect to the platform thus ensuring that this unavailability does not impact their academic exposure.

EDKASA was able to receive an investment of up to £150,000 by the Ilm Ideas 2 program. This allowed them to pilot test their business model and to conduct more market research to increase accuracy and efficiency of their approach. EDKASA achieved a flopping sum of £ 1.5 Million  from the ILM2 program because of various factors. The most promising ones included its potential to scale, its likelihood to reach young people in poorer communities who were at a risk of dropping out of schools and lastly, EDKASA’s committed team of highly ambitious, driven and innovative individuals.

Story Kit

Story Kit or, Kahani Se Kitab Tak is another program incubated at NIC that works towards for teaching children the Urdu language through story telling. The organization works on developing products for historical sites and monuments, such as, Wazir Khan Mosque. It aims to substitute the methods of teaching Urdu currently by introducing children to Urdu literature and folktales through stories while also organizing free Story Kit sessions on weekends in schools located in the relatively low income areas. Developed by Pakistani–Canadian writer, translator, and essayist Musharraf Ali Farooqi the Kahani Se Kitab Tak program partnered with Children’s Global Network, Pakistan State Oil, British Council also a brand called Leisure Club, introduces children to Urdu literature while ensuring their learning of the language.

Story Kit has partnered with Knowledge Platform, Alif Ailan, British Council, Ferozsons Lab, PSO, Arbisoft and is launching a product specifically targeting exclusive schools like Lahore Grammar (LGS), International School Karachi, Beaconhouse Newlands, Roots Millennium, SICAS, LACAS and others. They are currently working on marketing their products and simultaneously targeting more schools to branch out their services and reach a wider audience.

Education, An Awakening!

The National Incubation Center stands firm over the belief that innovative learning is the future and the best way to enable the youth of today for a more promising tomorrow. Keeping this view in mind, the implementation of the ILM2 program allowed NIC to scout and home some of the sharpest and most pioneering minds in the country. Through this inventive approach, NIC was able to provide stable grounding for establishment to the likes of BigBytes, Grassroots and EDKASA. The forces at NIC LUMS believe that an investment in the innovative minds of today through knowledge pays the best interest in the future of the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Impact Challenge – Defying Limitations

The KP Impact Challenge is an enterprise of the KP Government in collaboration with the National Incubation Center Lahore located in LUMS and The School of Education. The united effort of the three aspires to provide better prospects to the youth of the province. KPIC seeks to sustain them in a manner that encourages entrepreneurship and facilitates them to become active earners without the rut of job quests.

With the assistance of its School of Education (SoE) the National Incubation Center Lahore (NIC) implemented the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Impact Challenge successfully. The main incentive of this project is to empower youth, located in the relatively lesser developed areas of Pakistan so they may establish and run enterprises to ensure a maintainable source of revenue.

The target audiences of this incentive are individuals between the ages of 18 and 30. Like many similar projects successfully executed by NIC, KPIC looks to sustain already established businesses or assist individuals in developing one from the ground up. It is a platform that encourages and expedites pioneering and inventive minds and business ideas that have what it takes to thrive in the business world.

How NIC goes about the KPIC Project

Individuals interested in the prospects of a sustainable future were required to submit their applications through several portals that were readily accessible. Potential candidates used WhatsApp, courier or GUST and LUMS NIC received the applications in clusters of thousands. Once received, contracts were signed to initiate the promise of a better and more lucrative future.

More than 900 applications were received, they were shortlisted in 100’s and a flopping total of 45+ were later shortlisted.

Once selected, the candidates were then brought to LUMS to commence their training. To make the transition easier for them, candidates were even provided accommodation. NIC believes in assisting the candidates to the very extent they require. Whether this is the filling of the applications or the training, creating investment briefs or deriving an exclusive business plan – if a candidate shows potential and determination, NIC ensures they are met with a better future.

Through moral handholding and constant mentoring, enough support was provided to ensure implementation. Once their training was successfully complete, they attended the Investors Summit organized in KP by the local government of the area. The intention of this summit was to further beseech investments for their business ideas. These ideas were later provided with sufficient grants to supplement the investments.

The Diversity of Businesses Homed

The applications received revealed the diversity of the business ideas brewing in the minds of the young entrepreneurs. Amongst them one was the Doctor’s Dairy Farm initiated by Waleed Omar. His business aimed at eradicating contamination from the milk being delivered within the province. His plan was to establish a farm that would ensure organic milk production that was hygienic. With a degree in veterinary sciences, Omar believed he possessed the expertise to not only provide pure milk but to also create awareness among the masses of its importance.

Similarly, we had Mishal Khurshid and her idea of TaleemArt. With a Master’s in Education, Khurshid’s business idea was to provide an extraordinary learning environment equipped with state-of-the-art technological facilities. She planned to develop a consulting firm consisting of educational, financial, and management experts that could provide technical assistance to the private schools of the community for provision of services such as curriculum development, teacher’s training, administrative management, child care and counseling, school building overhauling, staff support program, institutional planning, and infrastructural extension recommendations.

These two ideas were merely a drop in the bucket when viewed in correspondence to the plethora of others received.

KPIC Main Features

One of the most prominent features of the challenge was the selection of universities across KP. The faculty members were selected and trained with the objective that they would eventually take their roles as entrepreneurship trainers. The faculty members went through a process that entailed their participation as trainees in the first cohort, observers in the next and co-trainers in the third. As a result of this, they would be provided with the expertise to conduct the workshops at their universities independently. Nonetheless, these would be supervised by the NIC teams to ensure quality control.

The worth of the challenge was not in the streamlining process of the businesses, nor does lie entirely in the training of the faculty. The true assessment of the KPI challenge was in ensuring accessibility of the local universities for the entrepreneurs.

The syllabus used in the training process was specifically designed by the team at NIC LUMS. The intention behind it was to guarantee understanding and the assurance that through following it, the trainees would reach the set benchmark and be able to gain independence in the upcoming cohorts.  The drive behind the meticulously drafted syllabus was also to ensure that the qualitative performance expected and received from the universities in KP was equivalent to the ones being received at LUMS.

The Investors Summit

The Investors Summit held on April 26th, 2018, was a success, to the say least. Notables who attended it included the chairman of PTI, Imran Khan himself, Mr. Mohammad Tariq Khan, Secretary for Tourism, Sports, Archaeology and Museums, Culture and Youth Affairs; Mr. Pervez Khattak, Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shabana Gul, Faculty Member IMSciences and Dr. Qazi Waheed, Assistant Professor Entrepreneurship.

The availability of this platform allowed the startups to address their business plans in front of a wider audience and be able to speak about their venture with a new found confidence and future in mind.

The National Incubation Center stands firm over the belief that entrepreneurship and enabling the rural youth to accomplish their entrepreneurial dreams can guarantee a palpable future for the country. Keeping this view in mind, the implementation of the KPI challenge was to yoke the same skill, dedication, drive, passion and commitment in them. Through the successful execution, NIC was able to involve the rural youth in the economy of the country through the creation of jobs.