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Crowd-teaching: Is education just a click away?

29 January, 2014
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Through its crowdsourced videos, Nafham brings Egyptian students customized lessons straight into their screens.

Nafham was formed in response to the question of how Egypt's already strained education system could find new solutions for its growing population?

The dream behind Nafham: bringing crowd teaching to life. The web-based platform hopes to make education accessible to students all over Egypt through a series of crowd-sourced videos. BECAUSE met with the CEO and founder of Nafham, Ahmed El Alfi, to learn how he is closing the gaps in the public education system.

How would you describe Nafham?
Nafham, meaning 'let's understand,' is a free educational website aimed at offering students an interpretation of the entire Egyptian curriculum using the concept of crowd teaching, where anyone can participate by creating a five to twenty-minute video explaining lessons from said curriculum.

Keeping in mind that not all students understand the same explanations, the same lessons are demonstrated by different people to accommodate students from varying backgrounds. At the beginning, we divided up the Egyptian curriculum into lessons, found short videos explaining some of these lessons online, and connected them to our website. We then recruited teachers to explain the rest of the lessons and offered prizes as incentives to people to participate with their own explanation videos. We don't judge the quality of the curriculum; we just teach it. The exception is that we don't provide religious or political teachings.

Is there a lot of student participation?
We have over 11,000 videos available on our website covering the entire Egyptian curriculum. We also have a lot of student testimonials of how Nafham has helped them with their studies; I even had a friend who didn't believe in Nafham's mission until he found his daughter using it to help her with her Arabic classes. We don't advertise yet, and we rely on word of mouth and online searches, but students manage to find us.

Was it difficult to start?
Nafham is a completely self-funded initiative, which made it quite easy to establish. Self-funded initiatives, that don't require donations, also don't require government interference or supervision of the donations, and all the bureaucratic red tape that comes with that. Recently, we established Nafham as a nonprofit foundation in both Egypt and the United States so that Egyptians interested in helping can donate to help us expand our services.

What's next for Nafham?
We have plans to expand our services to cover the Saudi, Syrian and Palestinian curriculums. Also, we would like to incorporate a feature in the videos where students can have live chats with the teachers and ask questions as they're viewing the videos. Finally, we would like to also provide vocational training videos. Vocational jobs require a few weeks training beforehand and cost the employers a lot of time and money. If we can provide training online, and for free, it could substantially improve people's employability at no cost.

What advice would you give to people interested in social entrepreneurship?
The key to sustainability is doing something that you enjoy. Solve problems that you enjoy working on and your work will be sustainable. If people were to spend 10% of their time solving problems rather than discussing them, we would all be better off.

Tags Ahmed El Alfi Crowd-teaching in Egypt crowdsourcing Education for Employment Education in Egypt Education in the Middle East. Egyptian Curriculum Nafham Online learning Social Business in Egypt Social Entrepreneurs from the Middle East Social Entrepreneurs in the Middle East

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