While the Covid-19 outbreak has placed the entire planet on hold, many governments are considering ways to preserve their students’ education; A godsend for some of the startups that have ventured into the market of online education.
This is the case for Abwaab, an online education platform launched six months ago in Jordan, with a freshly sealed partnership in cooperation with the National Ministry of Education, broadcasting coursework to Jordanian middle and high school students.
Although Jordan has “only” 274 cases and 5 deaths, it has been very responsive in managing the crisis, quickly establishing some very drastic measures, including a curfew and complete lockdown on all its citizens. All of this, turns out to be an opportunity for this startup, which was recently created by Hamdi Tabbaa and Hussein Alsarabi. Their employees had never been busier than the moment in which Jordanians could no longer leave their homes.
Utilizing technology to spread education
For this former Uber manager, once in charge of the MENA and Levantine region, education has always been a passion. “Before joining Uber in 2015, I was already thinking about working in education because I’ve always enjoyed helping my friends, teaching in my spare time. Working for Uber gave me the opportunity to see the impact that technology can have on certain industries and how it can revolutionize mobility. I wanted to apply the same to the field of education. ”
He earned a degree in strategy and leadership from the Harvard business school online, before launching Abwaab with his business partner, Hussein al Asarabi, the former director of product and technology at Myrelated, an Arabic content platform with hundreds of millions of users. While Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world, its only represent only 3% of online content. The name translating to “doors,” Abwaab reflects the commitment of its founders to promote access to quality online education for all students in the MENA region.
Improving the level of education in Arabic
— abwaab_edu (@AbwaabEdu) December 4, 2019
As Hamdi laments, “education in this part of the world is not always very high, and students rely heavily on private tuition.” A dynamic which widens inequalities between those who can afford private tutoring and those who cannot. By offering online classes accessible to all, through an annual freemium package of around $200 which grants access to all its contents, the start-up aims to make education more inclusive. It provides over 1000 short, animated video lessons to captivate the young audience’s attention. As Hamdi points out, “The advantage with the short format is that the students can easily come back at different times during the lesson if they have not understood” and utilize an innovative technology to offer maximum interaction between teachers and students, including the possibility for teachers to maintain eye contact with their students. For now, the content bases itself on the Jordanian curriculum, in various topics (chemistry, arabic, english, mathematics, biology and geology) but could well be extended to other countries in the Arab world such as Egypt (which has the largest population in the Arab world) and Saudi Arabia.
Although many companies have experienced great difficulty to stay alive since the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, it is certainly not the case of this young startup which has seen its growth index increase, and its workforce triple. ” We are a year ahead of our estimated growth. Our team now consists of 65 people, including all the teachers, and have reached ten thousands new users per week since the start of the lockdown.”
Adwaab has also raised $2.4 million from several investment funds earlier this year, helping the development of its application and enables them to produce more and more content. “What is happening is truly sad for humanity, but it is also a shift that will allow the world to realize the value of e-learning and not only in times of crisis, thanks to the time and money it allows us to save. “ concludes Hamdi.