Qalb Kabeer (Big Heart): A replicable model for empathy in Egyptian public schools

Qalb Kabeer (Big Heart): A replicable model for empathy in Egyptian public schools

Helwan, EgyptHelwan, Egypt
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.

Qalb Kabeer is putting empathetic emotional development at the heart of Egypt’s public schools by engaging all the stakeholders in the education process

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Egypt’s current economic and political turmoil is well-known. Less publicized, however, is the dire crisis within Egypt’s schools, where the mainstream educational system is dominated by outdated rote learning models devoid of a focus on emotional development. Though school counselors exist, they are relegated to an administrative role and are discouraged from going beyond suppressing immediate behavioral problems. This creates a barrier to bringing empathetic ethics into the school environment, leaving students without any models of empathy, and treating the students as passive recipients and nuisances rather than active change agents.

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

Qalb Kabeer (Big Heart) is disrupting the Egyptian school teaching and counseling model by involving all stakeholders in the education system (the Ministry of Education, counselors, teachers, parents, and students) in a new framework that puts empathy and active student agency at the center of the learning environment. Qalb Kabir’s unique methodology is built upon interactive and emotionally-supportive learning environments that redefine the way students learn and, crucially, the role of counselors. Our solution is based around counselors trained in Rogerian therapy methods that model extreme empathy and emotional support for students. We make these counselors central pillars of the school environment, focusing specifically on young teenagers in order to make an impact on the students’ emotional development then they are most impressionable.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Our model engages directly with Egypt’s highly neglected public middle schools. When working with a school, we first • Bring our trainers in to run a year-long course for students on empathy, tolerance, and emotional development based on a curriculum we developed with a heavy emphasis on interactivity and treating the students as capable decision-makers. The course is run for 90 minutes per week with each class in the school. • While teaching the students, the school’s own counselors are concurrently observing the course as well as receiving their own training on empathetic counseling methods. • Additionally, we work directly with parents and the school administration to ensure that the counseling system is no longer seen as peripheral to the learning environment but rather as a central resource for support. After we have run our course and training for a year, we hand everything over to the school, the counselors, and the students, allowing them to continue using our methodology, and we move to other schools for direct engagement. We have also developed a manual and expedited training on our methodology that we give annually to other NGOs to let them incorporate empathetic support principles into their own programs.

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

There are no other organizations in Egypt working on this issue with the young teen demographic in public schools. These schools represent 85% of all schools in Egypt, and are almost uniformly devoid of emotional support programs. Qalb Kabeer has been recognized by the Daily News Egypt and many newspapers, magazines, TV and Radio programs as “the first of its kind” to tackle these issues in Egypt.
About You
Qalb Kabeer (Big Heart)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Qalb Kabeer (Big Heart)

Organization Country

, QHR, Helwan

Country where this project is creating social impact

, QHR, Helwan

Your role in Education


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

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Qalb Kabeer is putting empathetic emotional development at the heart of Egypt’s public schools by engaging and training all stakeholders

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Qalb Kabeer redefines the role of counselors through a replicable empathy-based model, targeting teenagers in neglected public schools

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Since our founding in 2005, we have achieved the following every year:
- Establishing our programs in 7 schools,
- Training 15 school counsellors,
- Training 300 students directly through Qalb Kabeer’s team
- Training 3,000 students indirectly through the school counsellors
- Training 100 parents and social activists
- Qalb Kabeer runs annual trainings for other NGOs in Cairo to provide them the tools to take our methodology even further through their own programs.

So, we had access to about 18,000 students, 40 middle schools, 90 school counsellors, 600 parents. Moreover, we have printed our program/curriculum for easier implementation for interested organisations.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

By the end of 3 years, our franchising model should be up and running, we understand that Qalb Kabeer alone can only reach a limited number of schools; however, by creating a franchising system, our growth will move from linear to exponential. Over the past years we have developed a core team, and a strong reputation with all stakeholders in the education system, and a huge number of NGOs.
We expect that number of new franchises opened in 3 years to be 30 organizations, leading to establishing our programs in about 500 schools, training 1,000 school counsellors, training 100,000 students and 3,000 parents and social activists. We believe we are on the cusp of a major impact breakthrough using franchising.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Funding is of course always a barrier when working with public schools, though we are working with new revenue models of offering our service for a fee in private schools to avoid donor dependence.

In addition, a new potential barrier is the uncertain nature of the coming political regime in Egypt, whose approval we need to work in public schools. We are connecting with other educational NGOs to create a united front that can lobby for our programs with the new regime.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

To re-establish connections with the Ministry of Education for the new regime in order to ensure continued buy-in and access to

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Compiling more success stories to strengthen our reputation and help build our case in front of the Ministry of Education

Task 2

Strengthen our relationship with the Ministry of Education for easier access to public schools after the Minister is changed

Task 3

Creating a strong base of other NGOs and activists to lobbying for our ideology and build a wide base of supporters

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Establish our franchising system and integrate the concept of "Citizenship guided empathy" to our program

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Conceptualize the nature of the relationship between Qalb Kabeer and our franchisees for quality control and follow-up

Task 2

Secure funding to allow us to carry out a pilot franchise program that can reach 3 new governorates yearly

Task 3

Making our the program flexible enough to adapt to different cultures and schooling systems in Egypt

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

I, realized the importance of a positive environment for youth’s emotional health when I transferred from a private Catholic school where students were treated as equals to a public school where students were neglected and treated with disrespect. As I, finished high school and moved to medical school, I dedicate my free time to community work. Interacting with youth and listening to their problems made me realize that lack of emotional support was the dominant characteristic among them. To address this problem, I decided to work to bring empathy to the center of the public school system. In 2009, being elected as an Ashoka Fellow helped connect me to the network of entrepreneurs to help accelerate my impact.

Tell us about your partnerships

Other than our partnership with the Ministry of education. We also work with the Egyptian Counsel of Motherhood and Children to provide workshops to parents around empathetic parenting methods.
ElSawy Culture Wheel (one of the greatest cultural institutions in Egypt) and IEEE (an NGO that teaches “engineering mindsets” for children, uses our curriculum because they have found that without the proper training in empathy and active agency the children are not effective learners).

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

We are always bringing in volunteers, often alumni from our previous programs, to help implement our trainings. Generally we do not have to make any public announcements for staff or volunteers since we have so many high-quality alumni. It is essential that these people model tolerance and empathy, because we believe that behavior modeling is a key factor of learning.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Qalk Kabeer is on the verge of a major breakthrough, all the support we can get is needed to ensure sustainable operations and expansion in the future. I like to see Qalb Kabir's staff as “serial collaborators,” and always open to new partnerships and collaborations. We can also offer our information and ideas through our curriculum as well as mentorship for young change makers.