Booming Student Population Makes A Perfect Site For Education Tech Startups

By Suparna Dutt D'Cunha / Forbes - Image Credit Getty


SOURCE : Forbes - Why The Middle East's Booming Student Population Makes It A Perfect Site For Education Tech Startups

According to a 2014 Brookings study on the Arab world “students in the region do not learn what we call twenty-first-century skills like working in teams, problem solving, being innovative, risk taking. So, there is a problem with the curriculum that is too traditional, that is too much based on rote learning, learning things by heart.”

However, over the last few years, where traditional schooling has failed, technology is filling the gap . By 2020, there will be an estimated 15 million students in the Gulf, including those who are out of school as a result of armed conflicts and displacement, and it's pushed the capacity of basic social services such as education to a critical point in many countries.

Over the past years, the headlines have been dominated by armed conflicts in the Middle East, but less visible have been the quiet changes happening across the region in the edtech sector in terms of edupreneurs building new approaches, tools and platforms across the learning spectrum.

“Edtech sector in the region is full of potential, as we regularly see interesting startups pop. They are critical for the region given the low quality of educational outcomes across the board,” says Nafez Dakkak, CEO of Queen Rania Foundation (QRF), a foundation focussed on improving education in the Arab world. “A lot of promising entrepreneurs are expanding access to quality education.”

Crowdsourcing educators

Three years ago, in Dubai, Thea Myhrvold started Teach Me Now, a personalized tutoring portal she describes as “an alternative to pre-recorded video learning.” From facilitating video feedback and lesson plans on languages, math, programming and curriculums for IB, GCSE and SAT, to helping teachers share resources, the platform that partnered with Microsoft leverages global market efficiency, creating jobs and empowering students.