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Lahore, PakistanLahore, Pakistan
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Rabtt provides an alternative learning environment where teachers are replaced by mentors and subjects like World History, Arts & Dramatics are explored, with the aim to connect with students at a personal level and focus on building 3 core competencies: critical thinking, empathy, and creativity.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

education prepared students for life, not just exams!
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We seek to improve the quality of education in Pakistan, especially in public schools that serve 66% of population. Students are taught to memorize and regurgitate textbook materials, and teaching methods reinforce these habits. With this intensive focus on grades, less than 5% of school-time involves supervised sports, music, art, or activities like drama and debates. This limits inquiry and creativity among students.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Rabtt conducts Summer Camps (RSCs) and Workshops (RWs) in public schools for high-school students. We cover sports and subjects like Arts, Drama, World History, Public Speaking, English, and Maths. Our curriculum is highly engaging and interactive, covered by volunteer mentors, mostly undergrad students, who build close bonds with students. RSCs run for 3 weeks during summer, followed by 6 RWs held per participating school in the following year. Rabtt Young Professionals Program targets elite private high-schools and delivers advanced 3-month modules like Entrepreneurship, Photography, and Design Thinking. The program recruits experienced mentors and stays true to our core philosophy, providing a revenue stream for self-sustainability.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Different camps and workshops work to provide a more holistic education experience to students. We have seen students who stammered while talking to a class of 20 students deliver speeches in front of 200 people audiences. Subjects like public speaking and dramatics combine to build confidence and interpersonal skills. Our students have gone on to work with independent theater companies in various roles. Students come to appreciate and enjoy performing as well as visual arts, although this is the first exposure to arts for most of them. Creativity combined with thought provoking ideas allows students to freely express themselves. One student told us on the last day of the camp, "up till today I had been memorizing, now I am learning".

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have conducted 12 summer camps and numerous workshops to date, reaching more than 1,200 students and engaging over 150 volunteer mentors. A pre- and post-camp survey in 2012 showed improvements in students' critical thinking abilities (54%), confidence levels (25%), and tolerance levels (12%, not statistically significant). This is supported by qualitative evidence where students have maintained relations with different mentors, explored areas like theater and arts, and have returned to our summer camps. One of our ex-student is currently acting as a Camp Manager. During the validation phase, 2014-16, we are conducting a rigorous impact evaluation to assess improvements in critical thinking, empathy, and creativity levels. This will inform our curriculum development and methodology.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Post-validation, we aim to pursue public-private partnership to increase our direct impact in schools. Scaling up will also entail adoption of technology in lecture preparation and delivery, which we are working on right now, allowing us to maintain set standards. We will look into other options that allow us to reach scale, like teacher training, while staying true to our core metrics in all our trainings. These strategies will increase our geographical reach, especially within Punjab province. A positive impact analysis will also allow us to advocate for re-envisioning the education system​

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our Young Professionals Program, targeted at students in elite private schools, gives training to these students on similar metrics. A fee is charged for each module, providing us with a revenue stream to cross-subsidize public school operations. The program is still in it's infancy phase; clients have shown interest and we will be launching it post-summer. Partnerships, like British Council recently, also play a vital role in financial stability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

CARE and The Citizens Foundation work on improving access and quality of education in Pakistan. Citizens Archive Pakistan works to enhance tolerance in public schools. The Knowledge Factory offers courses like Acting and Music to clients. We are unique in our combined focus on critical thinking, empathy, creativity, and our cross-sectional approach. We operate in both elite private sector (YPP and our volunteers) and public schools (RSCs, RWs), connecting the two segments to build a lasting bond. Developing our own curriculum also gives us freedom to address the problems we see directly.

Founding Story

Idea for Rabtt came in 2010 when Imran Sarwar and Aneeq Cheema, after graduating together from LUMS, were working in Lahore. Imran had experience coaching underprivileged students for the LUMS admission test, and was moved by their passion, work ethics, and determination. More than anything else, it was the bond he and his colleagues built with students that truly motivated them. He firmly believes that human connection is essential for any meaningful change. Aneeq took part in Seeds of Peace camp, and did his bachelors thesis on curriculum subversion in Pakistan. Both experiences helped him in discovering the ‘others’ we create around us, through culture or education. Rabtt hence started just as a platform to rethink education and connect


Roles at Rabtt have become quite well-defined - covering areas like operations & HR, marketing & finance, academics & assessment - while still allowing flexibility. There are 3 full-time and 3 part-time employees, with Imran leading the team as Managing Director. The team combines expertise on diverse fields like Public Policy, Psychology, Finance & Marketing, and Political Science, with graduates from leading US and Pakistani universities.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Lahore

Country where this project is creating social impact

, P, Lahore

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Customers.


Omidyar Grant for Entrepreneurship in South Asia, by South Asia Institute at Harvard University, 2013

Programmatics Support for 2014-15 from British Council, Pakistan

Project Grant from Seeds of Peace, 2012

Small Grant from US Consulate General, Lahore, 2012

Primary Target Age Group

13 - 17.

Your role in Education

After-School Provider, Social Worker.

Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Public (tuition-free).

Intervention Focus

Curricular, Extracurricular, Policy or Analysis, Products or Services.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Putting Children in Charge: Giving children a voice and cultivating agency via experiential learning, project-based learning, and civic engagement.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Whole child development is undervalued: Essential parts of development get left behind as children get older, such as healthy habits, executive function, and social and emotional learning.


Course content and training manuals to other organizations working on similar areas, for usage as well as for feedback for us

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

All our activities are geared towards enhancing 3 core competencies:
Critical thinking: to understand and engage with subject material and ask relevant questions, instead of merely memorizing the right answers.
Empathy: to appreciate different world-views and opinions, rejoice diversity, and be able to put oneself in someone else's shoes.
Creativity: to express oneself in any medium, visual or non-visual, while thinking beyond the set norms and traditions.

Secondary Form
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.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

0 to 500

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers:


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).

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.