PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
4 main components to the program: 2 of them geared towards students from low-income backgrounds (Rabtt Summer Camps (RSCs) and Rabtt Workshops (RWs)) and 1 towards students from high-cost private schools (the Young Professionals Program (YPP)). Rabtt Fellowship Program (RFP) prepares college-going students to serve as mentors and instructors for the students enrolled in RSCs and RWs.
The year starts with selection and recruitment of RFP Fellows who then undergo a weeklong training in June before the start of RSCs. RSCs are conducted in different public and low-cost private schools, with 40 9th-grade students per camp. This year we have a batch of 55 Fellows and are working with 7 schools and a total of 300 students. The camp lasts for 3 weeks, with 90 hrs of instruction, and one more week for preparation for Graduation Ceremony - a joint Graduation Ceremony this July had an audience of about 800.
RWs serve as follow-up to the RSC, where we work with the same set of students during the year and build upon the skills from RSCs. At least 6 workshops are conducted at each school with 20 hrs of instruction. The Fellows also undergo 2 more rounds of training with the aim to enhance their own capabilities beyond RFP.
For YPP we have 3-month modules (e.g. Photography, Filmmaking, Entrepreneurship), about 25 hrs each, which will be conducted with high-school students in batches of 15-20, for a fee. 2 schools have shown interest so far, but we are yet to formally launch the program.
INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.
There’s significant debate over how current schooling model doesn’t prepare students to truly excel (Ken Robinson; Schooling the World), and how student centric approaches can enhance learning (Sugata Mitra). Working to enhance creativity and empathy through public schools in Pakistan is challenging, where actual learning is secondary and people mostly value grades. But when same parents and teachers tell us they have never seen students happier, or students claim that for the first time they are actually learning and not memorizing, that’s our greatest hope to carry on re-envisioning learning
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?
Playing allows a child to think, act and create without inhibitions. At the core, that is what education should be about–playing with ideas. But we limit the ability to play in the physical world, either by overburdening the child with schoolwork or simply due to resource constraints, which directly inhibits their creativity and inquiry. Playing and discovering allows learning to be internalized, without which the whole education is forced and fake. In Pakistan students grow up memorizing answers, not freely asking questions, because their ability to just play with ideas has been thwarted.
SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.
South Asia Institute at Harvard University – 34.5%
British Council – 21.8%
Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign – 17.2%
Seeds of Peace – 3.2%
US Institute for Peace – 2.6%
Small Grant from US Consulate General – 10.3%
Corporate funding – 1.7%
Individual contributions – 8.6%
MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?
We are a non-profit organization, registered under Societies Act 1860, Pakistan. Grants and contributions allow us to keep our services free for low-income bracket, and even when we charge for our services, the aim is not to generate profit, but to sustain our work.
FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?
$20K would ease financial burden and allow us to work on pending projects. This includes a year-2 program where students will work with us on 6-month projects, focused on entrepreneurship and community development, and we will strengthen our for-profit project, YPP, to start a regular revenue stream
PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.
Funding partners: South Asia Institute at Harvard University, and British Council (help with content as well). Knowledge partners help in content development and execution: Center for Dialogue and Action at FC College, Independent Theatre Company, Social Innovation Lab, Seeds of Peace. Public sector partner for help in connecting with government departments: Punjab Education Endowment Fund.
COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.
I haven’t initiated any collaboration yet, but there are some initiative, especially in India (like Protsahan), that I am interested in collaborating with. I will be following up with these organizations.
VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?
We want to impact education policy starting from the grass-root level, changing the way teachers teach, and not just change a few policy documents. Schools should be encouraging questioning and students shouldn’t be studying just for exams, but for the sake of learning and expressing themselves, through whatever medium. This will lead to a more thoughtful and empathetic society, where diversity is valued and people perform at full potential.
IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time
We initiated an internal impact study to assess improvements on 4 metrics: critical thinking, empathy, creativity, confidence. Pre and post summer camp surveys were conducted this year, and the complete study will take about 2 years. Each metric is interlinked, but empathy will be one attribute which will be the most challenging, yet most exciting, because it addresses a much needed behavioral shift.
APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.
Physical Play, Play with Objects, Pretence/ Socio-Dramatic Play, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts).
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.