An UAE based online face to face tutoring service for high school students worldwide, called E-Aid (Eductional Aid), is making its way to completion.
Rumaisa Mohani, a business and accounting teacher for 17 years and one of the four partners in this project, told Gulf News the story of how it started.
“My sister, friends and I got together to help students as private tutors. In the summer when schools are closed students have no one to go to, so they would call us [private tutors] at anytime even at midnight and ask for help.” Mohani explained. She said that sometimes they would ask her to go on Skype, which she said was very difficult for her as sometimes it would not run smoothly. “So I thought that something should be there so that all teachers could be there, something dedicated to education and has no distraction.”
That led her to contact her friend who is an IT expert, Babar Uddin Siddiqui, who also has a teaching background, to develop a software, that will enable the teacher to teach and see all the students.The project was recognised at The Global Innovation through Science and Technology’s (GIST) Business Plan Competition, when Mohani and her team, which consist of her, Siddiqui, her sister Malika Farha, and Rumman Hasan, won the Best Female Entrepreneur Award, which included $15,000 that Mohani said will be their projects start-upmoney. The four of them have multiple years experience in the field of education.
“I heard about the competitions from my friends who had participated before and as I am a business plan teacher, I thought I should give it a try,” Mohani said.
The GIST initiative creates links at the individual and institutional levels among technology entrepreneurs, investors, and the marketplace to improve quality of life through economic prosperity. It spans over 43 different countries across the Middle East, Central and South East Asia, and Africa. They identify, coach, and fund the promising entrepreneurs through their competitions, start-up acceleration services, online social media platform and interactive mentorship programmes.
Siddiqui has already developed the software and it is 90 per cent complete, Mohani said.
“In the beginning we were going to implement the project in Pakistan, as we thought that tutoring was illegal in the UAE, but people at the competition told us to do it here.” Mohani said, but they were told by people from Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments at the GIST competition that that was untrue. “We also asked many UAE-based legal advisors to make sure and were informed that tutoring was indeed legal in the UAE.” They have not decided about whether their office will be in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. “whichever is faster”, she added.
“Our vision for the project is to have call centre like cubicles, with special furniture, screens, boards, books, and gadgets were the teacher can write and it will show on the screen. Each teacher will have a cubicle and access to all this, and at a single time 10-20 teachers will be in the same hall, it will be very high-tech.” Mohani said. She added that they have already contacted teachers and will start with at least 10, “but we know that will increase very quickly, so in a year we think we’ll have 20-30 teachers.”
The project is now focusing on IGCSE subjects but Mohani said that their aim is to also cater to Emarati students needs. “It was very sad that from 70 teams in the competition from all over the world, we were the only team to represent the UAE and none of us were UAE nationals. My mission now is to bring Emaratis into this.”
She said that they are planning to provide tutoring for TOEFL, SAT and UAE curriculum; because she said she believes it is important to provide Emarati students with a interesting educational environment and include their needs in the project, as this project originated in the UAE. “It is a gift from the UAE to the world” Mohani said. “What we need now is exposure and grants to help us fund the project and get people engaged in it. I want this country’s people to rise and join us on our mission.” she said.
Online lessons will be recorded, Mohani explained, so that if anyone wants to check what was being done, or if students have any complaints, those records can be reviewed. Also if a students misses a pre-paid session they can view it later.
The project’s business plan states that the online classes will be in the form of a face-to-face chat sessions charged on hourly basis, where tests, assignments and worksheets will also play an integral part in the learning process.
The second part of the project, Mohani explained, will involve them contacting colleagues and universities, as she said they also need online tutoring software. “We plan on providing them with our software and tailoring it to their needs — which differs from those of private tutoring. Abu Dhabi University had already contacted us and told us that they want our software,” she added.