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How Abwaab and Mawdoo3 helped Jordanian government build online education platform Darsak

Abwaab, the Jordanian edtech that recently made headlines by securing $2.4 million in the Middle East & North Africa’s largest pre-seed round and Mawdoo3, the company that runs the leading Arabic website of the world recently helped Jordanian government set up Darsak, an online education platform to teach over 1 million school-going students as the schools across Jordan, like rest of the world, had to be closed to control the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

The two technology companies worked on the initiative from the beginning – starting from ideation all the way to execution and now management. Together, they designed Darsak drawing inspiration from Abwaab’s user flow and experience and took the platform live in less than a week.

Jordan’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship led the initiative from the government’s side and startups like JoAcademy and Edraak provided the content. The platform now offers daily lectures to the students of first grade to eleventh grade as well as those studying for Tawjihi (the general secondary education certification in Jordan).

Jordanian prime minister Dr. Omar Razzaz recently visited Abwaab’s offices to appreciate their work.

Hamdi Tabbaa, the co-founder and CEO of Abwaab, speaking to MENAbytes about how they helped with the platform, said, “Our team worked in parallel on both the product and content fronts of the initiative. On the product side, we worked with Mawdoo3.com’s talented team of developers, pooling together our resources and tech expertise, to bring this product to life in less than a week.”

“On the content side, we kicked our operations into high gear to help support additional grades and managed to expand our offering from 4 subjects to 28, hire 17 new teachers and open up 2 new studios – all in 48 hours,” he added.

Rami Al-Qawasmi, the co-founder and CEO of Mawdoo3 which also happens to be the best-funded startup of Jordan, told MENAbytes, “A platform like this would take a year to put together. What we see here is the result of over 700 people working day and night on this together. This situation showed the ability of both Mawdoo3 and Abwaab’s teams to work under pressure, which at times like this, is multiples of usual productivity within the normal comfort zone.”

Mawdoo3 and Abwaab didn’t make any money in the process, “We believe in the long term mission of education, and in elevating the standards of learning experiences for students in Jordan and across the region. Today, we are focused on supporting the country in solving the challenge being faced right now, at no charge to the users or the government,” said the representatives of both the companies, in a conversation with MENAbytes.

The platform has been welcomed by parents across the country with positive feedback on different social media channels. The lessons are also being broadcasted on three different channels on national TV, resulting in over 10 million views between TV and online.

“The reaction by parents on how the lessons are produced and delivered has been very positive. We’re even seeing high numbers of students in younger grades (9 &10) engaging with the platform, which surprised us given that we expected to see more demand from high-school seniors (“Tawjihi”) who have final official MoE exams coming up soon,” said the two companies, speaking to us.

The use of edtech tools and platforms has increased multiple folds across the world and many students, parents, and teachers are experiecning online learning firsthand, for the first time in their lives. All these platforms obviously still have a lot of challenges to overcome but the teams at Abwaab and Mawdoo3 think that this increase in adoption will have a lasting positive effect on the way people view online learning platforms.

“Our mission of bringing our concept-based lessons to students to elevate their out-of-school learning experience has been catalyzed with this initiative. The result is that we are providing learning to 1M students who would have otherwise stayed at home without any education,” said Abwaab’s co-founder and CEO Hamdi, in his conversation with MENAbytes.

Mawdoo3’s co-founder and CEO Rami Al-Qawasmi expressed his gratitude for Minister of Education and Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship for providing the opportunity to work on this challenge, “Jordan has a unique pool of talent which continues to prove that we can handle problems on the spot.”

This public-private partnership is a great example of how startups across the region could help the governments solve some of their biggest challenges in days. Sometimes all the government stakeholders need to do is ask which is apparently what the two Jordanian ministries did.

As explained by the teams at Mawdoo3 and Abwaab who’ve now also been approached by some other governments in the region to work on similar initiatives, “Today, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a police officer, a doctor, a teacher, or a developer behind the laptop, we are all working hard to overcome the dire situation that the country and the world is facing.”

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Lahore, Pakistan. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.
Zubair Naeem Paracha
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