| Making Education Accessible: Ten Minutes at A Time |
Two years ago when Ayman Sadiq, founder of 10 Minute School, came to Toru Institute of Inclusive Innovation, he brought along with him ideas of creating a learning platform for students who were deprived access to educational materials due to their geographical and financial barriers. He had multiple solutions to a problem of which he only knew a little. When asked, “What is the problem you are addressing?”; he could not zoom in on his core problem. With the help of Toru, Ayman dug deeper. Through rigorous learning, relearning and delearning sessions he trained himself to become an empathetic thinker who asked why and how to find the most fitting creative solution.
10 Minute School, an educational platform created to make education accessible for all, was founded by Ayman Sadiq in 2015. During his student life, Ayman heavily relied on bite sized YouTube tutorials to ace his exams. However, he soon realized there was little to no content available for the national syllabus. Simultaneously, it struck him day in and day out how privileged he was because he was at the epicenter of all things educational in Bangladesh: Dhaka. While Dhaka has sufficient resources and proper guidelines, the rest of the country lacks them. Most students do not even get to make the most of their talents because of geographical, economic and informational barriers. He set out with the thought that he would do whatever he can to change that, no matter how big or small the impact.
The purpose was to create a platform that would comprehensively cater to Bangladeshi students so that the website would not only support individuals in their national exams and curriculum, but also assist them for all local and international tests as well.
The journey began with their Facebook Page where they posted educational infographics. Gradually, they got their website, but that too had its own mind. The website crashed the very first day! Once that was fixed, they started making simple and short pen-on-paper videos on Math and English. From there, they eventually moved on to make videos on other subjects, face to face academic videos, live classes and software training. Infographics transformed into smartbooks, and videos into live interactive classes.
One of their first challenges was setting up a website. They approached a number of web development firms; however, some could not materialize their ideas while there was one who left midway. Nevertheless, that did not stop them. Their talented CTO, Abyad Raeid, decided to take matter into his own hands. He took a few months to learn web development and made the preliminary version of their website. This was followed by the struggles of finding a suitable sponsor to fund the operational activities of 10 Minute School. A collaboration with Robi Axiata Ltd gave them a stable funding programme that was needed to keep 10 Minute School going.
Perhaps the biggest challenge they faced was making their contents accessible to a large number of people in Bangladesh and overseas. They thank their lucky stars that the ICT Ministry of Bangladesh made it possible for them to broadcast their classes to 2,001 training labs across the country. They are reaching out to 64 districts and activating these training labs by organizing proper workshop to train the teachers. They are also planning to take these online classes to 30,000+ multimedia classrooms in collaboration with a2i and UNDP. They handled their problems by approaching them strategically, one step at a time. They incessantly approached the people who could help, utilized apt marketing strategies to ensure a greater and more efficient reach, and their team worked tirelessly every day to ensure that it sustains.
As an incubatee under Toru, 10 Minute School and Ayman received unfaltering support from the organization. When Ayman met Saif Kamal with his idea for 10 Minute School, Saif not only helped him realize the potential such an organization could have, but also helped Ayman channel his energy and focus in the right direction. Working with Saif at Toru taught him how to remain focused in the most erratic of situations. The support and guidance he received there helped him strategize his plans of action and helped him build a structure that is not only practical, but lived up to the social impact it was intended to create. Toru helped Ayman realize the value and potential of his dream when he did not entirely know what to do. Ayman believes this encouragement to be a major motivating force for himself.
10 Minute School teaches not only academic subjects to students, but also digital and entrepreneurial skills to make their learners’ more compatible with the job expertise required in this region. More than 2 lac graduates enter the job field every year. There are 5.5 lac registered freelancers in Bangladesh and by equipping the youth with job-specific skills, they are providing even more students with higher freelancing opportunities to tackle unemployment and the lack of job availabilities. The academic section of 10 Minute School has nearly 500,000 active members who participate in their live classes every day, while their interactive skill development section currently has over 123,167 active members who regularly learn software skills and graphic design from the tutorials and contribute their own ideas to help others learn better. They have provided this skills training hands-on to over 20,000 students of different schools and universities. Their impact in its truest sense lies in the fact that they have managed to create a free learning platform that has encompassed students from all the seven divisions of Bangladesh. By reducing geographic, economic and informational barriers to quality education, they are gradually making education and skills training accessible for everyone.
The future when it comes to education is endless and digital. 10 Minute School plans on digitizing education to such an extent where anyone can, not only attend any class they want from the comforts of their home, but can also say goodbye to last moment cramming of uncountable lecture sheets. Every topic that a syllabus covers will be extensively laid out on the smartbooks. Through the smartbook, students will be able to understand, analyze and interpret poems, literary texts, essays and much more. In case of math, physics or chemistry, not only will students be helped with derivations of formulas, equations and be taught chapters the way a teacher would at school, the smartbook will also show various practical experiments on its video platform, and thus assist the student to understand complicated topics even better.
It has been a long but an extremely rewarding journey, to say the least! Ayman feels that as a generation, we are exceptional and resilient. But as we grow up, we tend to lose this drive and passion and succumb to countless societal pressures and skepticisms. He often tells everyone, what you love to do and what you are good at often comes to you surrounded by what he calls ‘noise’. This noise is made up of doubts, fears and a lot of people telling us ‘It’s never going to happen’. His advice to the youth and aspiring entrepreneurs is to learn how to focus on what you are good at, and IGNORE this noise. When it feels like you are doing what you were meant to do, focus on that. Focus on that every day because everything else is just noise. Toru and 10 Minute School is focusing on leadership and culture setting. Toru has assisted Ayman in connecting with external mentors to shape up his organization. Toru will support 10 Minute School in this journey of continuously working towards creating a more inclusive society for the coming generation.