Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Teach the World Foundation

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What is the name of your solution?

ELAN - Enhancing Literacy and Numeracy

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Our objective is to provide functional literacy and 21st century digital skills amongst the most marginalized populations using digital technologies.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The world is experiencing an educational crisis. According to UNESCO’s Education for All Monitoring Report, about 1 in 10 people in the world cannot read or write, adversely affecting achievement of the SDGs. The developing world is the worst hit, with millions of children out of school and millions more poorly educated.

Traditional education models cannot solve this problem within an acceptable timeframe. By introducing a combination of eLearning, tablets, smartphones, and gamification, digital technology can be a game changer.

Globally, nearly 1 billion people are functionally illiterate, and another billion are barely literate. More than 300 million children are currently out of school (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2019), and half of all children and adolescents are not learning worldwide (UNESCO 2017).

The consequences are devastating. There is a strong correlation between illiteracy and poverty, poor health, and crime. In economic terms alone the world loses more than US$1 trillion in productivity a year (World Literacy Foundation 2018). The benefits of education are tremendous, with an exponential relationship between literacy and GDP per capita (Cameron and Cameron 2006), as well as other Human Development Index indicators.
The crisis mainly reflects lack of access, quality, and accountability in educational provision. The developing world is particularly affected. A critical constraint is the shortage of more than 69 million teachers globally (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2016). Learning outcomes are poor, with vast numbers of in-school children underperforming and little accountability in government-run schools.

Pakistan’s education crisis is approaching catastrophic levels. It has more than 22 million children out of school (UNICEF 2019). With the population growing by more than 4 million people a year and a literacy rate of 60 percent (Ministry of Finance 2020), 30–40 million more children could be out-of-school by 2030. Meanwhile, learning outcomes for in-school children are very poor, with approximately 40 percent of fifth graders failing to perform at the second-grade level (DAWN 2019).

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these problems, with 32 million K–5 students affected by school closures in Pakistan (UNESCO 2020). The World Bank reports that closure of seven months would lead to a loss of learning equivalent to 0.7 learning adjusted years of schooling (LAYS). Given that Pakistan already stood at just 4.8 LAYS, these numbers are alarming (Azevedo and others 2020).

Traditional means will not solve this problem in an acceptable timeframe—even if the resources existed. In Pakistan, providing access to 22 million out-of-school children would require more than 87,000 schools and 700,000 teachers (ASER Pakistan 2019)—the equivalent of the construction of 12 schools a day for the next 20 years. There is an imperative need for a rapidly scalable and easily deployable model of education that allows mass access to quality education, with built-in accountability to tackle the global educational crisis with the necessary urgency required.


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What is your solution?

ELAN’s model is a simple and scalable “functional literacy” solution for students in kindergarten to grade 5 (K–5). It has been deployed with excellent results in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malawi, in varied settings, from urban slums to refugee camps and remote Himalayan villages. The model delivers world-class reading, writing, and math applications in a gamified format, on low-cost tablets and smartphones, in a facilitated setting. ELAN students outperform students in traditional schools, achieving at least 1.5 times the learning gains, as measured by independent third parties across time, multiple geographies, and environments. As part of a “think big, start small” strategy, Pakistan is our starting point to establish these models. Ultimately, we plan to expand these models globally, to millions, in a disciplined, phased manner.

Using award-winning gamified applications on tablets and smartphones, our technology does not require reliance on a trained teacher. Our strategy is to create game-changing transformation by leveraging the Big Five of digital learning:

1. Universal reach and access: Mobile and global Internet can take the world’s best learning anywhere. We manage learning deployments in three countries, on two continents, from Pakistan.

2. Better, faster “self-learning”: The essence of learning is engagement. Digital educational games provide engagement and motivation in unsupervised settings, promoting “self-learning” and 21st century skills like digital literacy and problem solving.

3. Portability, adaptability, and massive scalability: ELAN’s low costs, rapid deployment, and standardized technology and training make our solutions extremely scalable.

4. Transparency and accountability: Built-in tracking in digital applications enables accountability. With data analytics, it enables robust monitoring, evaluation, content adaptation, and personalization.

5. Higher return on investment: High engagement means greater learning. On average, ELAN learning gains are 1.5 times those from traditional teaching. Even at equal cost, the return on investment doubles, and costs at scale can be even lower than they are today.

We deploy award-winning, gamified self-learning applications with proven history in partnership with the following developers:

•Global e-learning Xprize winners KitKit and Onebillion
•Google Read-along
•Curious Learning
•Local language content providers like SABAQ Muse and Taleemabad in Pakistan.

Our program has three deployment models:

1. Maximizing access through one-room micro-schools

Focus: Out-of-school children in marginalized communities without schools/teachers

Launched in communities with large out-of-school populations, this model provides an excellent alternative for children in urban slums, refugee camps, and internally displaced person (IDP) environments. We rent a room accommodating 25 children, equip it with 25 tablets, hire a teacher or facilitator who is trained in 5 days, and operate 3–5 shifts of 25 children daily. Mobile hotspots provide WiFi powered by solar. We can launch schools for 75–125 students in weeks for US$10,000–US$15,000, with annual costs of less than US$10,000. This model can be scaled very rapidly.

Community partnership and engagement is key, with communities providing space, teachers, and support. In Karachi, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)sponsorship funding just allowed us to launch 100 micro-schools. We are planning to expand to 1,000 CSR–sponsored micro-schools by 2025.

2. Enhancing quality in existing schools

Focus: In-school children suffering from poor quality of education

In Pakistan, 32 million in-school children underperform, with more than 40 percent of fifth-graders unable to operate at second-grade level (ASER Pakistan 2019). Our model is deployed in partnership with large local NGOs already operating schools, leveraging their staff, classrooms, schools, and utilities. Incremental costs are less than US$30 per student per year. Learning is delivered on tablets, using “best-in-class” English, math, and local language content. This model addresses the poor quality of teaching endemic to public schools in Pakistan.

3. Providing mass access on smartphones, for at-home schooling

Focus: Out-of-school children with no access to schools and in-school children needing quality enhancement

Our at-home model was driven by school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 50 million children in Pakistan having lost access and tablets being cost prohibitive, ELAN needed alternatives. Despite some drawbacks, smartphones provided an answer, with their massive installed base of more than 23 million in Pakistan. We launched using our existing portfolio of educational games for both in-school and out-of-school variations through existing implementation partners.

The program is managed by facilitators working with children through their parents. We found parents—who are often illiterate—taking great interest in their children’s learning gamified learning apps. An unexpected but powerful ancillary benefit emerged here, turning this program into a potential family literacy program.

We are currently testing this model with more than 1,400 children in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Early results have been strong. Focus groups with parents show that the program has been very successful at engaging and motivating children to study despite school closures. Results from weekly quizzes confirm these results.

This model has proven to be ELAN’s fastest growing, with massive potential to scale. By 2025, smartphone penetration in the developing world is expected to reach 70 percent (World Economic Forum 2019). This is also our lowest-cost model, with cost per student at around US$20 per year. With family literacy added, it could be our highest return on investment play.


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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We currently educate 2,400+ children from the most marginalized communities in the world with our “self-learning” model. These include refugees,  stateless and internally displaced people (IDP’s), orphans, and urban slum populations. For example:

 • URBAN SLUMS: We work in some of the poorest urban slums in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. For example, we operate in Baldia Town in Karachi, one of the poorest areas with a population of 800,000+ people, and about 50,000+ out of school kids. Lahore & Islamabad have similar situations; however, we do not have reliable demographic data

 • ROHINGYA REFUGEES: Victims of one of the most egregious genocides in the world. 800,000+ populate one of the largest refugee camps in the world in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. More than 530,000 are children under 15 who get little to no education. We operate multiple learning centers here at the K-2 level.

 • BIHARI REFUGEES: This is a lost community of ~300,000 people, languishing in refugee camps since the 1971 civil-war that created Bangladesh. Half are children under the age of 15 with less than 10% having the opportunity to gain an education. Many of the older children work in menial jobs to help their families. We operate multiple K-2 learning centers here.

 • MALAWI: One of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 172 out of 189 in the Human Development Index. It has an education crisis; ~50% of the children drop out by grade 6 (UKRI). We launched our first learning center here last year.

Ideally, our target market would include everyone who is functionally illiterate. However, our limited resources force us to focus more narrowly. To do so, we asked ourselves where digital learning would have the highest social impact. We considered the following:

•Students in marginalized communities in the developing world suffer from lack of access as well as poor-quality of education.

•The effects of poor accountability are exacerbated in the developing world.

•Students in the developing world are also at increased risk of learning loss, made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given this, we decided to target the developing world, where the educational crisis is at its worst and there is a high need for a scalable learning model ensuring democratization of access to quality education. We concluded that we could provide the greatest value to TEACH THE WORLD children by putting them on the learning path using ELAN to give them functional literacy with a K–5 education. Our learners fall into two categories:

•Out-of-school children in marginalized communities with no access to education

•In-school children struggling because of the poor quality of traditional schools in developing countries.

To give an example of the magnitude of the illiteracy problem, the table below shows the size of the potential target market that can be reached through ELAN's different deployment models.



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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

All deployment models of ELAN share certain core features.

1. Deployment strategy: Partnering for scale

Partnerships are key to our scaling mission. We partner with large educational NGOs that already have scale, as well as governments. In Pakistan, our partners include the two largest NGOs as well as the federal and Punjab governments. In Bangladesh, we partner with a major NGO serving large refugee populations. Our Malawi partner is the smallest. It operates 16 orphanages.

2. Execution Management

Execution is guided by the following:

• We establish strong governance mechanisms to ensure good execution. They include regular status reviews, dashboards, and problem-resolution mechanisms.

• Training is a critical activity for ELAN. We conduct workshops to ensure that each facilitator or teacher and field officer is well trained to conduct our program.

• A central help desk supplemented by field officers provides troubleshooting
and support.

3. Research, Measurement, and Evaluation: Continuous improvement

Ongoing assessments of program effectiveness are core to our methodology. To validate program efficacy and drive continuous improvement, we conduct year-long assessments on all our deployments, using a methodology that measures both relative and absolute progress against a control group. To do so, we partnered with leading research organizations in Pakistan, including:

• Nielsen, a global leader in research.

• Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA), an organization that conducts the internationally recognized Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey, Pakistan’s most comprehensive study on education.

• The Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), Pakistan’s leading quantitative research Think Tank advising the government and NGOs on data-based reforms.

In addition to that, our team brings significant expertise in 

· Successful mega-scale digital transformation

· Innovation in learning,

· 5+ years of successful on-the-ground digital learning deployment

Key leadership personnel include: 

Shafiq Khan, President: Headed digital at Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, where he scaled their digital business from $150 million to $15 billion+. Earlier, Shafiq led the digital transformation of travel by pioneering electronic ticketing and online booking at United Airlines and US Airways, establishing them as a global standard. Shafiq brings invaluable experience successfully scaling digital transformation.

Imran Sayeed, Chief Development Officer: is on the faculty of MIT’s Sloan School teaching Entrepreneurship & Innovation, a serial entrepreneur, and was until recently CTO at a Fortune 60 company. Imran brings experience starting new ventures, scaling them rapidly as well as securing funding and partnerships to create global impact.

Adnan Ahmed Qureshi, Vice-President: Adnan holds an Ed.M degree in Mind, Brain and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has extensive background experience in the education and ed-tech space in Pakistan, working with leading organizations such as Teach the World Foundation, SABAQ, Teach for Pakistan and The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Shirin Husain, Chief Implementation Officer: is among the foremost practitioners of digital learning in the developing world, and has implemented ALL our programs worldwide. She has 30 years experience teaching children in the developing world as well as building the eco-system to sustain such programs. Her experience spans some of the most prestigious elite schools as well as some of the most impoverished communities.

In addition to that, we have a lean core team of 14 people in 2 countries, strongly supplemented by our partners, whose infrastructure we leverage. Our team is divided into:

  • Implementation: 6

  • Research: 4 

  • Content & Fundraising: 2

  • Technical Support: 2

Deployment Partners:

  • 50+ facilitators on-ground

Research Contractors: 

  • 30+ (Enumerators, Research Associates)

Our team is ethnically diverse and inclusive: 

  • In Pakistan, we have people from mainstream cities like Karachi and Lahore as well as remote Himalayan towns of Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • We also have people from rural districts and villages of Sindh
  • In Bangladesh, our people are from the Bihari refugee population who represent one of Bangladesh's ethnic minorities
  • Our deployments in Bangladesh in particular are focused on the Bihari and Rohingya refugee populations, as we aim to target the most marginalized sections wherever we operate

Moreover, our team is also gender-diverse and inclusive:

  • Our leadership team is gender-balanced
  • The vast majority of our on-ground teachers and facilitators are female from the local communities where ELAN is deployed
  • As an organization, we actively aim to have gender balance within our deployments and classrooms

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable personalized learning and individualized instruction for learners who are most at risk for disengagement and school drop-out

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Karachi, Pakistan
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Our solution's stage of development:

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How many people does your solution currently serve?

Current: 2400+learners 1-year plan: 10,000 learners 5-year plan: 2,000,000 learners

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Why are you applying to Solve?

Winning the global challenge will bring us very significant tangible and intangible benefits. It will very significantly strengthen our ability to fulfill our mission which is to bring literacy gains to ~25m out-of-school children in Pakistan and Bangladesh and ensure continuity of learning for ~54m K-5 students whose learning has been disrupted due to COVID-19. This program has very significant potential for other under-developed countries. If we succeed in Pakistan and Bangladesh, we will plan to transplant this program in other countries with the highest need. 

  •  The most immediate tangible benefit is access to funding. This will directly enable us to scale our existing micro-school and smartphone interventions in Pakistan and Bangladesh to more students. 

  • We expect that the Solve team will also enable us to get access to the immense intellectual capital and the knowledge repository present at MIT and the Greater Boston area, particularly in the areas of emerging educational technologies, research and analytics.  

  • The brand association value will also be immense considering the respect MIT has and the considerable “halo effect” that comes from winning such a prestigious award. This will instantly enhance our credibility and allow us to develop relationships with many organizations relevant to our mission—e.g. potential partner organizations, entrepreneurs tackling the literacy problem in Pakistan and Bangladesh, donors, aid agencies, etc.


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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Adnan Ahmed Qureshi, Vice-President

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

What makes our solution innovative?

Our key innovation is not original invention, but the packaging of existing technologies with new approaches/processes to solve for education access and quality--major problems for education systems in the developing world. 

Key features are:

  1. The use of educational games to drive student “engagement”
  2. The innate scalability built into our deployment approach
  3. Real time Instant feedback and personalized  learning for students.
  4. Solving the “accountability” challenge

1. Gamification

Gamification and rewards motivate students and enable self-learning, without direct teacher instruction. Our applications are highly engaging compared to traditional methods.solving the critical challenge of teacher shortages and teacher quality.

2. Scalability:

We have built massive scalability into our design to allow us to deploy to  millions rapidly--from working with large local educational players, low infrastructure investment versus traditional brick-and-mortar, low management skill needs, and maximizing the utilization of technology and facilities for great cost-effectiveness.

3. Real-time Feedback:

Our solution can provide real-time assessment and feedback on students' progress,  allowing the student to follow a personalized learning path, based on their own learning pace and cognitive ability, while we use the data to track student progress to iterate and further improve the learning experience.

4. Accountability:

A key developing world problem in education is school, teacher, and student accountability. The built-in tracking capability of digital creates extraordinary accountability. Teacher and student attendance, time spent on learning apps, learning progress achieved, is tracked. With appropriate rewards systems, this can be a powerful motivator for reducing teacher/student absenteeism and enhancing overall performance.

5. Portability: 

Model is “portable” in case of emergency situations; for e.g. if learning centers are not available due to inclement weather or due to further displacement of camps, the model can “travel”, enabling facilitators to flexibly gather groups of children in other locations or in their homes and very easily set up a classroom in an informal setting.


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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

ELAN will create and enhance lasting social impact by:

1. Enhancing economic and social well-being

• We expect improvements in education to increase employability, improve health, and reduce poverty and crime.

2. Accelerating access to education

• ELAN enables accelerated expansion of access to education, through its strong scalability.

• ELAN has powerful “democratization” potential. It provides high-quality education to the underprivileged, which is rare in developing countries, reducing the gap between elite schools and under-resourced public schools.

• ELAN’s “self-learning” feature promotes the development of digital literacy, creative thinking, problem solving, self-confidence, and social-emotional learning.

3. Empowering girls, women, and communities

• A key aspect of ELAN is increased female literacy, as we mandate a 50-50 male-female ratio. In some communities, our at-home program provides education to girls who are kept from going to school because of cultural taboos.

• Our at-home smartphone program focuses on family literacy targeting the child, mother, and father, who are often illiterate themselves. This was an unexpected benefit that emerged from our at-home model.

• ELAN’s micro-school concept promotes extraordinarily high community engagement and empowerment. Our first two micro-schools were initiated at the request of communities that have become partners in our mission and have provided space, teachers or facilitators, and other support.

Our long term plan is to impact the following number of beneficiaries around the developing world. 



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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

ELAN started as a proof-of-concept at a school in Karachi. Following successful outcomes, it was deployed in three countries and varied geographies and environments, such as refugee camps, urban slums, orphanages, and Himalayan villages, with similar results.

Our most recent evaluation in Pakistan, our key area of focus, shows the impact of ELAN on K–2 students in Lahore and Islamabad. Students were assessed digitally using SurveyCTO, an assessment tool designed using the Early-Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early-Grade Math Assessment (EGMA) frameworks developed by USAID. Tools were further modified by the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP).The results, shown in figure below, indicate that learning gains were 1.5 times greater among intervention group students than in the control group students.



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What is your theory of change?

Our Theory of Change:

Exponentially improving digital technologies & gamified self-learning applications, deployed on user-friendly devices, show considerable learning gains in functional literacy and numeracy, alongside other benefits (digital literacy, self-learning attitudes) at the primary level, in contexts where there is a lack of teachers and poor infrastructure availability.

Our Results:

Nielsen conducted an independent evaluation of our proof-of-concept in 2016. They ran a controlled study of 43 children, with 23 children in the intervention group and 20 in the control group. The results showed the intervention group outperforming the control group across by a factor of 2x or more. Based on third party evaluation employing a quasi-experimental approach (QED), our deployment in Bangladesh and other countries have also shown average learning gains (English & Math) that are significantly better than control groups. The assessments were based on Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Math Assessment (EGMA) frameworks developed by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI).

Global Evidence:

Other similar models that have employed digital technologies for learning have  produced promising results in multiple developing countries.

● Pratham Digital in India, with around 18,000 tablets in informal learning centers

● Google Xprize winner OneBillion ran a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) in Malawi, found significant learning gains and since have impacted over 30,000 students

● Can’t Wait to Learn conducted a study with a similar program in Sudan, have documented learning gains.

We expect these results to be even better going forward, considering the exponential rate at which technology and gamified learning applications are improving.


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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

WE BELIEVE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES HAVE NOT BEEN USED TO EVEN A FRACTION OF THEIR FULL POTENTIAL IN EDUCATION. This is a HUGE missed opportunity. Past ICT interventions have not tapped dramatic recent advances in technology and cognitive science

OUR TURNKEY DIGITAL LEARNING SOLUTION, ELAN, LEVERAGES THESE ADVANCES to provide functional literacy to the most underserved communities in a scalable and cost-effective fashion

WE USE THE WORLD’S BEST EDUCATION GAMES DEPLOYED ON LOW COST ANDROID TABLETS to teach K-5 English, Math & a local language. Games are designed for self-learning so kids don’t depend on qualified teachers. They are highly engaging, provide instant feedback and use reward incentives to motivate kids

Key technological features of ELAN's model include:

1. Product: 

We curate and deploy the best reading, writing, math and local language games on low-cost tablets. It is then used by 25 - 30 children in a secure, stable facility.

Apps are carefully curated and designed for self-learning so we reduce reliance on teacher instruction. They need to be:

a) Highly engaging

b) Have intrinsic game-based motivation/incentivization

c) Interactive and provide instant feedback to student

d) Able to provide real time tracking of progress Sessions are managed by a facilitator from the community, who is trained in less than a week to manage the students’ schedule, maintain discipline, troubleshoot tablets, keep them charged and secure. They also conduct basic formative assessments and assist students.

2. Technology:

a) Hardware: Android tablets, charging stations, headphones, WiFi hotspots.

b) Software: “Best-in-class” educational games relevant to local curriculum.

c) Supporting infra-structure: Solar power, satellite internet access if needed.

3. Services and governance processes:

a. Training: We provide training and training materials to facilitators and teachers

b. Support and trouble shooting: We also provide ongoing technical support and trouble shooting to our deployment partners.

c. Deployment: We are actively involved with every launch until it stabilizes, which is usually in a few weeks.

d. Monitoring: We believe monitoring and governance are key to good execution. We implement weekly monitoring using time-tested execution mechanisms such as dashboards. We also collect engagement and progress data in real-time to assess student learning gaps so facilitators can remediate fast.

e. Evaluation: An integral part of our solution is on-going third party evaluation of our interventions through baseline-midline-endline assessments in a mixed method, quasi-experimental research design. We measure absolute progress as well as relative progress against a control group (i.e. a group of students learning through traditional means). Thus, we gather qualitative and quantitative feedback, which is used to improve program design.


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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


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How many people work on your solution team?

We have a lean core team of 14 people in 2 countries, strongly supplemented by our partners, whose infrastructure we leverage. Our team is divided into: Implementation: 6 Research: 4 Content & Fundraising: 2 Technical Support: 2 Deployment Partners: 50+ facilitators on-ground Research Contractors: 30+ (Enumerators, Research Associates)

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How long have you been working on your solution?

5+ Years

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

We are largely operating in the developing world. There is greater racial homogeneity among the population in the countries where we operate (Pakistan and Bangladesh) therefore we do not have racial diversity within our team. 

However, our team is ethnically diverse and inclusive: 

  • In Pakistan, we have people from mainstream cities like Karachi and Lahore as well as remote Himalayan towns of Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • We also have people from rural districts and villages of Sindh
  • In Bangladesh, our people are from the Bihari refugee population who represent one of Bangladesh's ethnic minorities
  • Our deployments in Bangladesh in particular are focused on the Bihari and Rohingya refugee populations, as we aim to target the most marginalized sections wherever we operate

Moreover, our team is also gender-diverse and inclusive:

  • Our leadership team is gender-balanced
  • The vast majority of our on-ground teachers and facilitators are female
  • As an organization, we actively aim to have gender balance within our deployments and classrooms
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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

● As a pure non-profit, our business model is not about making money. However, we need to fund ourselves adequately to accomplish our long-term mission with a fee-for-service model.

● We start by partnering in a shared investment mode with established, existing education players serving low income communities in developing countries who already have scale.

○ We provide solution... software, hardware, training, support
○ Partner provides deployment ... staffing, infrastructure, facilities, security and management

● Following the pilot, as we scale, we plan to charge our partners a fee per student that will cover the vast majority of our costs with external funding covering the remainder.

● We expect our partners to pay the fee per student as the key value we provide to our partners is increased access and quality. At scale, our models will be more cost-effective (ranging from $20-40 per student per year) and will provide greater ROI in learning outcomes than traditional learning methods by leveraging existing infrastructure and maximizing its utilization.

● Our customers would be large NGOs; low-cost private school chains; and most importantly, the public school systems of the countries in which we currently operate and will be working in the future.

● Our beneficiaries are K – Grade 5 children from under-served communities; the value we provide to them is access, quality, 21stcentury skills.

● In the future, we will also explore a market-based/end-user paying model, where parents pay a nominal amount to access our platform — similar to organizations such as SABAQ and Knowledge Platform in Pakistan, who have successfully leveraged their platforms and generated revenue by working with low-cost private and public school systems.


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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

We believe the financial sustainability of ELAN is very high given the learning returns being provided. Cost is very low; at scale, the annual cost per student ranges from US$20 (smartphones) to US$60 (in-school and micro-schools)—half what other public or private organizations spend on education in Pakistan. 

Significant funding is currently available, which is being channeled into traditional modes of education. We are confident that over time this spending will be shifted to new models of education like ELAN, as they provide greater learning returns and decreasing per student costs. Our challenge is to fund the transition from the old to the new models. Figure below shows the return on investment of the program in Lahore and Islamabad in Pakistan.


Currently, we are sustaining ELAN through multiple means. Our micro-schools are funded by corporate donors under their CSR programs. In Pakistan, we have had strong support for micro-schools from other corporate donors, educational NGOs, and philanthropists. Our in-school programs are being run with existing established NGOs, which will scale our programs. Our smartphone program, which is new, is being funded through existing donors (individual philanthropists, CSR support, and online crowdfunding).

To scale ELAN, we are confident that we will be able to leverage the considerable funding available from large foreign aid agencies and educational foundations, which are constantly looking for better models of learning that provide enhanced outcomes and greater return on investment. We have also begun a program in which we charge a small annual fee per student to institutions with which we work. As learning through digital means continues to improve and costs fall, programs like ELAN will attract more funding and donations through both institutions and individuals.


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Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.


World Bank Ideas for Action 2020 Winner

Teach the World's Enhancing Literacy and Numeracy program combines innovative technology with simple and cost-effective learning solutions for children, providing digital lessons (World Bank Announces 2020 Ideas for Action Winners).  

We were one of the seven winners from an applicant pool of more than 4200+ applications and the only one in Education. 

MIT Tiger IT Challenge for Bangladesh

We were on of the 12 finalists who were selected and our president, Shafiq Khan, physically went to Dhaka to present our solution Enhancing Literacy and Numeracy in Bangladesh. (Link Here)

Ed-Tech Creator Challenge 2021 

We are one of the 25 winners of this challenge, which is sponsored by Unity, Amazon Web Services, ASU+GSV Ventures and Holon-IQ. We received $2000 in AWS credits as a result of this. 

UNESCO-Harvard Publication
Teach the World was featured in UNESCO's book, with joint publication by Harvard University, “Learning to Build Back Better Futures for Education" along with 20+ other leading innovations. (Link Here)

ASU-GSV 2022 Elite 200
We are one of the Elite 200 organizations selected to present and showcase our work at the online ASU+GSV Conference held online in April 2022. We were also the Elite 200 for the 2020 conference. 

Zurich Innovation Challenge:
We were one of the finalists for their country round in the 2020 challenge. 

Roddenberry Foundation 2020 Prize: 
We were one of the semi-finalists that made it to Round 2 for the 2020 Roddenberry prize. 

Team4Tech non-profit partner:
We were one of the selected non-profits to make it for the final round and had an interview/discussion with their program directors. 

Compassionate Impact Grant:
We had made it till round 2 for this particular grant, which involved sending a detailed proposal. 

Shafiq was features earlier in an interview. (Link Here)

Featured on a blog on the official Adobe website. (Link Here)

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