A young woman with an awesome spirit and a beautiful energy is the engine behind the NGO Educate Me, working on redefining quality education in Egypt. She decided to improve the state of the well-being of financially underprivileged children in Egypt through developing and delivering. We have met with the intelligent founder, and here are her insights on the foundation.
- Can you tell us more about your organization and its purpose?
Educate me is a non-profit organization working on enhancing the quality of primary education. Our vision is to have equal opportunity education, so it’s not only about memorizing information. When we think of education, it’s not only about being able to read and write. It’s ultimately the pursuit of self-actualization, for the individual to know who they are, what their choices are, and to be able to use these choices to maximize their potential and that of others. Education should give us the tools to become better people in general, and not just academically. We apply this through two mechanisms: a preschool and school in Al Talbiyyah district in Giza, and accessible intervention programs to enhance the performance of public schools. The school in Talbiya is where we implement the intervention model to know more about the demands of public schools and how to cater for them.
- How did the neighborhoods you entered first react to your presence in their communities?
In 2010, we were not yet a school, it was simpler. We had a Facebook page to help the children enroll in their schools through paying their tuition, providing school packs and so on. By time, our promises became bigger. We entered through one of the neighborhood leaders to gain the trust of the neighborhoods residents. And since we delivered our first promise, it was easier to continue. They were the ones that later told us that working with the children outside of school is not enough, and that they needed us to establish our own school because they loved the place and the approach. We did not have a hard time convincing the parents because most parents want the best for their children and they saw that. Our efforts lie within changing people’s mindset about what is considered to be quality education.
For the schools we entered, the impact was more than we thought. We usually have this perception that most teachers care about private lessons, but what we found out is that we cannot really generalize. Some of them really care about developing themselves and feeling that they have a value to add.
- What are the challenges you face on a daily basis? And how do you manage to overcome them?
We want to grow and have a great impact, yet preserve the team. We need funding, but we don’t want that to change our culture or identity. Our market is about changing mindsets and behavior and change is always hard. And hence, we ourselves have to be flexible and maintain a balance between everything else. It is about how to stay loyal to our dream with providing resources.
- How efficient do you think Educate Me has been with both the children and schools?
We test its efficiency on students relying on scientific evidence like the longitudinal study we conducted in collaboration with the US based organization Rise Egypt. The study suggested that Educate Me students outperformed other students in all the development domains such as literacy, numeracy, and social development by 10%. With public schools interventions, we found 48% enhancement in the educators’ performance post the intervention.
- What are you aspiring for in the future?
We hope that our model serves millions of children in Egypt and the Arab world. We cannot use western models. We need to fix local solutions. We need to take the western issues and adapt it to our culture. We hope that one day equal quality of education is provided regardless of the economic or social background of the parents. And not considered as a determent to their future.
- What advice could you give to people launching similar initiatives?
When it comes to development, people tend to think that you are just going to walk in, anything you’ll do will be good enough. But this really is not the truth. It is important to take the time to really understand how your support is needed.