In episode 8, Daastan welcomed three esteemed speakers from the Orenda Project. Firstly, we have Salwa – the Director of the languages program. Then we have with us Sarah Farooq the Chief Executive Officer, and finally Zainab Arshad, the Chief Design Officer. All three of the panelists put in their decade long experience to build “Taleemabaad.”
Starting the organization off as students, the three soon found themselves dispersed across cities for higher education. The small house where they once taught children in Kachi Abadi was now spiritless. Therefore, they decided to form a proper organization that could be catered to even in their absence especially through the use of technology.
Challenges in the beginning years of Taleemabaad
Having served Taleemabaad for so many years, Sarah and Zainab discussed the pattern they noticed with problems pertaining to the social mind-set in the rural areas. Often the notion that too much technology is damaging was observed. They share how this mentality was also found in the Rajanpur District, where they were conducting a project for girls who weren’t placed in a formal educational facility. Parents believed that exposure to technology would tamper with their daughters’ innocence and give them access to “unholy” practices. However, in the course of a few months, they noticed a change in the way the community perceived this approach of teaching. This resulted in a more tolerant outlook toward technology.
Taleemabaad during Covid-19
In the past year, the three had to deal with a plethora of issues stemming from Covid-19. It was difficult catering to a demographic reliant on physical education and with minimum access to technology. To deal with that a hybrid model was designed for interactive activities to make up where online learning could not. Teachers fear that they would lose their jobs to technology. But, they are reassured that their duties would remain intact. In fact, these tool are there to aid them.
Initially, the teachers would make lesson plans focusing on the administrative point of view of teaching. However, with Covid-19 their duties now narrow down to just delivering lessons. They are handed “automated” lesson plans so that they can cornerstone teaching in itself. This module receives regular feedback sessions, so the teachers can create more refined learning experience.
Creativity Learning through Digital Means
When asked how to lessen the divide for those who don’t have access to technology, Zainab reminded us to step out of the elitist mind-set. Technology is not limited to fancy smartphones and laptops, she believes. Taleemabaad uses cartoons as a pivotal resource for teaching students, their animations can be found on PTV (Pakistan Television).
In addition, they have modems of learning that can be heard on the radio as well. Their app has more than a million downloads across the globe. Therefore, schools were able to reach out to them, especially during covid as many found it difficult to adapt to online education. Their app is cost-friendly and designed for low-cost smart feature phones because they have always been aware of the audience they have been providing for.
You can stream episode 8 of Lit’EDTech here. For more literary goodness, stay tuned!